Akumu drops Zambia hint
- Akumu who played in the Zambian Premier League since January 2016 with Zesco United before switching to South Africa in January this year, says the traditional style by their opponents will be quite demanding
Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Anthony Agay Akumu says Harambee Stars should expect power-play and switch-ball approach from their opponents Chipolopolo, in their international friendly set for Friday evening.
Akumu who played in the Zambian Premier League at Zesco United since January 2016 before switching to South Africa in January this year, says the high speed style preferred by their opponents will be quite demanding for the hosts as it calls for high work rate to counter.
Speaking to journalists in a virtual press conference organised by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) on Wednesday afternoon in line with COVID-19 regulations, Akumu however expressed optimism Stars will melt the Copper Bullets.
“We many not be at our best in terms of physical fitness bearing in mind some of our players have been inactive since March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but our coach has talked to us how we have to bridge the gap especially those who have been playing. We will have to push more.
“This is A FIFA week, besides preparation for the qualifiers bit the result matters in the FIFA ranking so have to give our best,” said the ever calm defensive midfielder.
Akumu, who was axed in the last minute from the Harambee Stars squad for the 2019 African Cup of Nations by then head coach Sebastian Migne, says the experience is behind his back and is looking forward to help the team qualify for the next edition in Cameroon next year.
“We have a big chance because we started well in Egypt (drew 1-1) before we drew Togo here (In Nairobi) although there is that feeling we should have won it. The set of players in the team have known each other well and it is becoming easier to gel as observed in training. With all the players available we have a big chance to qualify again,” averred the former Gor Mahia man.
His sentiments were echoed by returning Brian Mandela who feels Kenya can qualify for the biggest African football fiesta and improve on the 2019 performance where they won against Tanzania (3-2), losing to evetual finalists Senegal and Algeria to crash out in the group stage.
“All the players who fetured in the 2019 Cup of Nations had not played on that stage before. Big part of the same group making it to Cameroon will go with an idea what it means to compete at that level, which should propel us even beyond the group stage,” he noted.
On Zambia’s friendly, Mandela who also missed last year’s AFCON after suffering a nasty injury says the team in camp is ready to step up and deliver without the absent first team players.
“We will miss them but from what I have observed in training the players are really hungry and are ready for the match. I don’t know how it will be to play without fans in the stadium but we are ready to represent our country. We understand the situation because good health comes first,” told Mandela.
Kenya will be without captain Victor Wanyama, Michael Olunga, Johanna Omollo, Ayub Timbe and Arnold Origi who had been called up but COVID-19 regulations within their club’s jurisdictions complicated their availability.
However, they are expected to be available when Kenya host plays Comoros in November.
Gor Mahia’s captain Kenneth Muguna im his remarks noted the indivindual training local players have been doing during the lockdown is paying dividends in the camp.
“We can’t say we will be much disadvantaged by the fact that we have not been playing. Players have been training on their own and that has helped to cath the rhythm within the short time we have assembled in camp. We cannot concentrate on that so much because COVID-19 has been everywhere, it cannot be an excuse for us,” a confident Muguna offered.
He says a win will mark a good point to restart the game, promising fans an exciting match as Nyayo Stadium hosts football for the first time in three years.
The last time Kenya played Zambia in the same venue was in 2015, losing 2-1 thanks to Winstone Kalengo and Collins Mbesuma goals. Olunga scored the consolation.
Head coach Francis Kimanzi is set to address journalists, still via Zoom on Thursday ahead of the match.
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