No Olunga, no problem as the Stars ready for epic battle tonight


No Olunga, no problem as the Stars ready for epic battle tonight
Michael Olunga celebrates his goal against Cape Verde

In Summary

  • The Stars will miss their lead talisman, Japan based striker Michael Olunga whose free-scoring form at Kashiwa Reysol would have added punch to the home side's attack

The daggers have been drawn and the battle lines clearly marked as Kenya’s Harambee Stars collide with visiting islanders Comoros in the first installment of the the doubleheader at the imposing 60,000 seater Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani tonight.

Comoros head into this duel buoyed by the fact that they top Group G of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on 4 points, resulting from a win and a draw but Stars, on two points, from respective draws are seen as favourites as they will be playing on home soil.

The Stars will miss their lead talisman, Japan based striker Michael Olunga whose free-scoring form at Kashiwa Reysol would have added punch to the home side’s attack, but his absence should give room for other faces to show their worth, most importantly young striker Benson Omala, if granted a chance.

The imposing facility will not have fans rocking from end to end; catcalls and boos to the visiting team will also be lacking thanks to the Covid-19 monster that has altered lives and the order of things.

Had it not been for the pandemic, the 6.2ft tall Olunga would probably had a field day running at their defence but the pandemic has attacked his Japanese club, forcing him to miss the match.

It is a rather unfortunate scenario but for the visitors this is a welcome gift they’d take with relish. Being an island nation Comoros are accustomed to humid atmosphere but in Nairobi its rather cold, at times chilly, at times sunny, pointing to the unpredictable weather patterns.

And just as the weather, on the pitch too they should expect unpredictable patterns of football.

Former Harambee Stars assistant coach, Salim Ali, having worked with current head coach, Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, installed on the hot seat barely three weeks ago, knows as much and is tipping the home side to roar to victory.

“To say the truth we don’t want to know which team visits us here. We have to win and nothing else.

Winning at home should be our priority and this calls for our boys to impress in all departments and come up winners.

Despite the fact that we are not going to have our lethal striker Michael Olunga due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone that has managed to make the cut to the final squad should prove his worth in a national call up,”Ali offered.

Ali went on: “For us to be in a better position we have to win and go top and see if we can get something away in Comoros before we play Togo and Egypt,” he added.

The match which will be played under floodlights and behind closed doors.

Zesco United striker John-Mark Makwata was the latest call-up in the Stars squad and is hoping to step in for Olunga but face a stiff competition from John Avire upfront.

 

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Story By Godfrey Ashiali
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