What Kenya Needs to Qualify for AFCON 2019

Kenya made a huge step towards the Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Cameroon in June 2019 when they beat Ethiopia 3-0 at home.

Captain Victor Wanyama, who plies his trade in London for Tottenham Hotspur, scored the third goal from the penalty spot after man of the match Eric Johanna was fouled in the box. It is Johanna who had set up Michael Olunga for the first goal and also scored a goal of his own, a screamer from the edge of the area in the first half.

Contrary to popular belief, Kenya have not sealed a place in Cameroon yet, but the result puts them on the brink of qualification for the continental championships, a feat they last achieved in 2004. The Harambee Stars now top Group F with 7 points, three more than second placed Ethiopia and four more than Ghana and Sierra Leone, who have both played two matches less.

Sierra Leone banned

Sierra Leone are however facing a FIFA ban for government interference in their national federation and their chances of playing in the remaining qualifiers are in doubt. Their back to back fixture against Ghana was cancelled by CAF and is unlikely to be rescheduled.

This means that Ghana could be awarded the six points, catapulting them to the summit of the Group with 9 points. If Sierra Leone meet the requirements outlined by FIFA before the next international break in November, they will be allowed to play the last two qualifiers; away to Kenya and at home to Ethiopia.

That means that they are technically still in contention for a qualification slot, because they could get six points from those two matches and potentially leap frog Kenya in the Group standings. In addition to hosting Sierra Leone in Nairobi, Kenya also have to play Ghana away in March. Ethiopia’s remaining fixtures are against Ghana at home and Sierra Leone away. The top two teams in the group will automatically qualify for the Cup of Nations.

Permutations

If Sierra Leone are disqualified, removed from the group and the results from their two games erased, Kenya will qualify regardless of the result of their match against Ghana. This is because the highest possible number of points Ethiopia will be able to attain is four, and Kenya will be assured of finishing in the top two. This

is probably the most likely and most favourable scenario for Kenya.

On the other hand, if Sierra Leone play the last two games, Kenya will need to beat them or Ghana to stand a chance of qualification. Theoretically, all the four teams have a realistic chance of making it to the championships but a lot will depend on CAF’s decision regarding Sierra Leone.

They could decide to award Kenya and Ethiopia 3 points each or to cancel the results of the matches involving Sierra Leone. The net effect is that Ethiopia will lose the 3 points from their victory against the West Africans and Kenya will qualify from the group. As it stands, the only thing that could deny Kenya an AFCON appearance is tough luck or an earthquake at FIFA Headquarters.