The World Cup season is here with us and, as expected, Kenyans are already scrambling to adopt countries that they will support in this year’s edition.
It would have been amazing if we had our very own Harambee Stars in action in Qatar, but that remains a pipe dream until we are ready to have a serious assessment about how we run football in this country.
Never mind we were talking about rebuilding when we played our last World Cup qualifier against Rwanda at Nyayo Stadium in November last year.
My bet is that the next World Cup in 2026 will still find us rebuilding and the story goes on and on.
To more serious football nations and my money will be on two Group ‘A’ teams – Netherlands and Senegal.
I’m tempted to believe an African nation will reach the semi-finals for the first time in history. Not least because for the first time, all African countries are being led by local coaches and this would be a vindication of their ability and perhaps put an end to the obsession of European ‘tourists’ managing our national teams.
From the five African coaches in Qatar, Aliou Cisse of Senegal deserves to reach the last four, but that will definitely rely on the fitness of Bayern Munich star Sadio Mane.
He has proved to be a reliable outlet in attack and played a key role in their Africa Cup of Nations triumph earlier this year.
His rich vein of form at his new club Bayern Munich must have had Cisse purring ahead of the World Cup and the entire nation will be hoping that Mane recovers quickly having made the final squad.
Chelsea goalkeeper Edoard Mendy has been shaky this season but still remains Cisse’s first choice with centre back Kalidou Koulibaly and midfield maestro Idrissa Gueye completing the spine of the Teranga Lions.
On paper, Senegal looks like Africa’s best bet to proceed further into the competition but Morocco could also turn out to be a surprise package.
However, I don’t see them going past Round of 16. As usual, I will defiantly support the Oranje who I tip to reach the final just like in 2010 in South Africa.
In terms of individual quality, this team is nowhere close to the class of 2010.
But what it lacks in individual brilliance, it makes up for in team work and a solid defence marshalled by Virgil van Dijk.
Louis Van Gaal’s decision to ditch the traditional 4-3-3 formation and adopt the 3-5-2 has served to strengthen the Oranjes defence given that their goalkeeping department lacks a notable figure with Tim Krul and Jasper Cillesen all overlooked.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s absence due to injury is certainly a big blow but Memphis Depay is capable of shouldering the responsibility of scoring goals.
I tip these two teams to come out of Group ‘A’, which also has Ecuador and hosts Qatar, and go all the way to the semi-finals.
If either of them reaches the final, I will be a happy man.