NAIROBI, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's national soccer team, Harames Stars has been pooled in a tough group for the 2019 Africa Nations Cup qualification.
Having been away from the ultimate stage in Africa football since 2004 in Tunisia, Kenya is pegging its hopes on Okumbi to return to the continental arena at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
But to navigate to Yaounde, Kenya must dribble past giants Ghana, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia following the competition's qualification draw conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Gabon on Thursday night.
"When you look at the teams, there is no easy challenger. It is the best teams and probably the toughest group. There is no easy root to success. But it is about our strength and how we play and not what other teams have. Harambee Stars has what it takes to be in Cameroon in two years' time," Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi said on Friday.
Due to improved rankings, Kenya will head straight into the group stages and avoid the preliminary round qualifiers as has happened before. With two trips to West Africa (Accra) and Free Town and one to Addis Ababa, Okumbi is not looking down upon any opponent.
It was one of the pillars that current Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa used in his election campaign to get votes and now it is time he delivered on his promise to get the national team back to the premier stage of continental football.
Harambee Stars, which is led by Tottenham midfielder Victor Wanyama, will have to top their group or finish among the three best second-placed teams in the 12 groups to be assured of qualification.
The qualification games, which will be played on a home and away basis, will commence in March and end in November 2018.
The draw pits several former champions against one another. Cameroon, who qualify automatically as hosts, are in Group B alongside 1976 champions Morocco, Malawi and either Comoros or Mauritius. Should the Indomitable Lions top their group, the second-placed side in Group B will contest the finals.
Record seven-time winners Egypt will meet North African rivals Tunisia, who won in 2004, in Group J.
A: Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Sao Tome/Madagascar
B: Cameroon, Morocco, Malawi, Comoros/Mauritius
C: Mali, Gabon, Burundi, Djibouti/South Sudan
D: Algeria, Togo, Benin, The Gambia
E: Nigeria, South Africa, Libya, Seychelles
F: Ghana, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Kenya
G: DR Congo, Congo, Zimbabwe, Liberia
H: Ivory Coast, Guinea, Central African Republic, Rwanda
I: Burkina Faso, Angola, Botswana, Mauritania
J: Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Swaziland
K: Zambia, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Namibia
L: Cape Verde, Uganda, Tanzania, Lesotho