Kenyan football commentators insist that blind optimism, or what is known as Roho Juu in Swahili, will keep the Harambee Stars going and their fans cheering at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Wednesday.
Football writer James Wokabi, writing in the twice-weekly Game Yetu! sports paper, remarked that Roho Juu means Kenyans still believe their Stars can progress to the deciding final fixture of the 2014 FIFA World Cup African series despite having earned only two points from three previous matches and being at the bottom of Group F.
The record shows that in 11 previous encounters at senior level, Nigeria have won nine and drawn two, with the Kenyans still searching for their first win against the Super Eagles.
Nigeria have scored 29 goals in those matches, against Kenya’s five.
Before their gutsy 1-1 draw with the Eagles in Calabar in March, Kenya had lost all five previous visits to Nigeria by three-goal margins.
Even at U-23 level, Nigeria overcame a 0-0 draw in Lagos against Kenya in a qualifying match for the 1996 Olympic Games, to post a 3-0 win in Mobassa and go on to win Africa’s first-ever Olympic football gold.
On Sunday, Harambee Stars’ Belgian coach Amrouche said: “The morale in camp is motivating and every player is eager to wear the country’s colours. I know it will not be an easy match, but we are determined to give the local fans an opportunity to enjoy and celebrate.”
Yet, Kenya have not won a qualifying match since beating Togo 2-1 in a Cup of Nations qualifier in February 2012.
Optimism of a chance to prevail in Group F is indeed a blind one, with Kenya condemned to beat Malawi in Blantyre even if they can work the miracle against the Super Eagles. The team has not won a competitive away match since beating Cape Verde 1-0 in Praia in October 2002.