By Jerry Omondi
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda will be looking for their first victories in the CAF 2022 World Cup Qualifiers on Thursday, with each side’s eyes set firmly on bolstering their chances for progression.
The three East African nations are pooled together in Group E alongside Mali, sparking interest among fans who expect derby-esque games.
Mali currently tops Group E with four points from two games; a victory against Rwanda followed by a draw against Uganda.
Kenya is in second place with two points from two draws against Uganda and Rwanda.
Uganda has similar points as Kenya, but is yet to score a goal in the qualifying campaign so far, having managed goalless draws against Kenya and Mali.
Rwanda on the other hand has one point from two games, having lost their opening match against Mali.
Kenya’s game against Mali will be the first under new coach Engin Firat, following the departure of Jacob Mulee last month.
The game will be played in Morocco because Mali does not have stadium approved by FIFA and CAF to host competitive international matches.
Speaking to Goal.com, Firat said his aim was to guide the East Africans to their first ever FIFA World Cup.
“I don’t see any difficulty to handle the team, it is a simple job for me and the main reason why I am here is, of course, to help the team reach Qatar, I want to take the team to the World Cup and I know it is not a difficult task,” he said.
Uganda, on the other hand, goes into the game against Rwanda with a new captain, after coach Milutin Sredojevic appointed midfielder Khalid Aucho to the role last week.
The Cranes are the best placed East African side on FIFA World Rankings, currently standing at 86. Group toppers Mali are the best ranked team from Group E, standing at 61. Kenya is on 102 while Rwanda is on 128.