No fear, just motivation: Olunga bullish as Stars take on Les Elephants

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LILONGWE, Malawi, Jun 11 – Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga says the team does not approach Tuesday afternoon’s 2026 World Cup qualifier against Ivory Coast with fear, but with motivation and confidence as they look to remain in pace for the top two spots.

Olunga says the team is in high spirits and have put the disappointing draw against Burundi behind their backs and all focus is in bringing down Les Elephants at the Bingu Stadium in Lilongwe.

“There is no fear when competing against the African champions. These kinds of fixtures are motivation in themselves. These are games that each player wants to play in because they just won the African Cup and we want to also measure ourselves against them,” Olunga said, speaking ahead of the game.

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Burundi game behind our backs 

He added; “The Burundi game is behind us and we will do everything to get maximum points from this game. We learnt from the setbacks and mistakes and now we are motivated to go all out against the African champions.”

Olunga said they were disappointed not to get maximum points against Burundi, having conceded a late goal to draw 1-1 last Friday.

However, the team says it will give its all despite being seen as the underdogs in the tussle with Ivory Coast.

He has also said that the team has everything to lose from the game, and will not take it casually as they also want to compete for a place at the 2026 World Cup.

Harambee Stars players hurdle together before training at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Will counter Ivory Coast threats

“Of course it was a setback not to take maximum points from Burundi but now the team is really focused on Ivory Coast. They pose a different threat and we will try to counter those threats,” explains Olunga.

He further states; “For us each game counts and it is not as if we have nothing to lose against Ivory Coast. We have everything to lose. They are the African champions, we respect that but we also want to get back into the competition and hopefully we are going to give a good encounter.”

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Kenya sits third in Group F with four points after three matches, and a win will be vital as it can potentially take them to seven points, if Gabon, who are on six points, lose to Gambia in the other corresponding group fixture.