Kenya welcome their long-time regional rivals Uganda for another friendly match on Sunday as they prepare for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Uganda will also be using the 24th international friendly to prepare for their African Nations Championship showdown against Burundi, while Kenya were bundled out of the competition by Tanzania.
Kenya’s rivalry with Uganda started way before the two countries achieved independence, with the first encounter, in the 1926 Gosage Cup (now the Cecafa Cup), ending 1-1.
The duo have met, in total, 76 times, with Kenya winning 22, drawing 22, and Uganda clinching 32 victories.
The biggest setback Kenya have suffered at the hands of the Cranes is a 9-2 loss in 1937 in a Cecafa Cup challenge, while the biggest setback for Cranes at the Kenyan hands remains their 4-1 defeat in an international friendly in 2004.
Since 2000, the two nations have locked horns 21 times, with 11 draws registered in those games.
In those 21 matches, Cecafa Cup clashes accounted for 10, four were during the defunct Four Nations Castle Lager Cup, while two were Afcon qualifiers in 2010 and in 2011. The other five were international friendlies.
16 clean sheets have been kept in those matches pitting the pair in this century, with the Cranes enjoying the lion’s share.
Although 0-0 draws have been registered three times (in 2001 and twice in 2002 in various competitions), the Ugandans have managed to keep the Harambee Stars attackers at bay 10 times.
Kenyans have six clean sheets on their side across the same period.
In fact, since 2007, the Harambee Stars have lost seven matches, winning just one and drawing in another three. It’s little surprise that Uganda have become to be seen as a Cecafa giant in recent history.
Uganda’s supremacy is further evidenced in the Fifa World Rankings, where they have maintained an average of 27 places between them and Kenya throughout 2019.
In February, Uganda were ranked 77th in world football’s classement, while Kenya were positioned at 106th. By April, both had dropped two places to maintain the same gap.
In the June rankings, the Cranes lay 80th worldwide, while Francis Kimanzi’s team were ranked 105th. In the latest rankings, announced on July 25 following the Africa Cup of Nations, Kenya dropped to 107 while Uganda retained their 80th spot.
The pair had mixed fortunes at that tournament, with Uganda progressing to the knockouts where they were eliminated 1-0 by eventual finalists Senegal, while Kenya were eliminated in the first round after suffering a 3-0 loss at the hands of the same opponents.
Speaking ahead of the match, Kenya coach Kimanzi refused to comment on the record between two East African rivals, but insisted his team were primed to secure the win.
“It will be my first match in charge and of course I will be happy if we get a win,” Kimanzi told Goal. “I don’t think I have time to discuss the record against them, but all I know [is that] my players are ready to give us something to smile about.”
Kimanzi and his assistant Zedekiah Otieno’s return to the helm of the national team will be tested by a Uganda side who clearly have the edge over their neighbours since the two nations began clashing on a football field!
By: Kiplagat Sang
Photo Credit: Goal.com