Okumbi confident Stars will prevail in Bissau
National football team, Harambee Stars will report to training camp on March 14 to prepare for their 2017 AFCON qualifier match away to Guinea Bissau as new head coach, Stanley Okumbi rolled out his first squad since his appointment a fortnight ago.
Stars who are sitting third in Group J will be hoping to recover from a dispiriting 2-1 home loss to Zambia on their last continental cup qualifier last September when they field against Bissau on March 23 with the Chipolopolo and Congo Brazzaville leading the standings.
Speaking to Citizen Radio on Friday, Okumbi said he has not settled on his final squad yet since the team will be altered depending on how the call-ups that include nine new faces will perform.
“Yes I can confirm that I released the full squad for the preparation of the match, but still we are following up on them. There other many who we have seen and we will try to follow up on how the play. So, many changes are expected.
“In the squad there are nine new youth players whom have not been used for Harambee Stars before. I will keep an eye on them.
“I believe it’s good to give young players platform to build their talents as well as gaining experience to perform for their clubs. If they train with the best in Kenya, it means they will be the best in future,” the former Mathare United and Kariobangi Sharks boss expressed.
“According to the Premier League programme, we are supposed to kick-off the training on Monday 14th of March but I have confidence in the team I believe it will produce good results.
Okumbi and his technical bench have started making logistical planning for the long haul flight to Bissau for the game with the idea of having overseas based players link up with the rest in Morocco where they will transit through being mooted.
“There are those playing on 19th and 20th of March so having them in Nairobi is not an easy task. So the best we can do is to meet them in Guinea and have light training before the kick off,” the new Stars boss who succeeded Scotsman Bobby Williamson affirmed.
The new Stars boss has called-up two players from his old side Sharks to his initial squad of 36, including Patillah Omotto and striker, Ovella Ochieng who is in line for a first cap and two from his immediate former team, Mathare, midfielder of the year, Erick Johanna and Roy Syamba, another debutant.
Posta Rangers keeper, Ian Otieno, defender Brian Birgen (Ulinzi Stars), Eugene Ochieng (Sony Sugar), Timothy Otieno (Posta Rangers), Aziz Okaka (Ulinzi Stars) and Nicholas Kipkurui (Zoo Kericho) are others vying to don the national jersey for the first time having impressed for their teams in the young domestic season.
The team will be led by skipper and English Premier League club midfielder Victor Wanyama with Antony Akumu (Zesco United, Zambia), Paul Were (Fc Kalloni,Greece) Ayub Timbe (Lierse, Belgium),Michael Olunga( If Djugardens, Sweden), David Owino (Zesco United, Zambia) among those in the foreign contingent.
Goalkeepers: Arnold Origi (Lillestrom, Norway), Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Lucas Indeche (AFC Leopards) and Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers)
Defenders: Harun Shakava, Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia), Brian Birgen, Omar Mbongi (Ulinzi Stars), Shariff Mohammed (Bandari), David Owino (Zesco United), James Situma (Tusker FC), Eugene Ochieng (Sony Sugar), Joseph Okumu (Chemelil Sugar) and Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United)
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Southampton FC), Johannah Omollo (Antwerp), Collins Okoth, Francis Kahata (Gor Mahia), Patillah Omotto (Kariobangi Sharks), Johannah Erick, Roy Syamba (Mathare United), Clifton Miheso, Simon Abuko (AFC Leopards), Anthony Kimani, Shaban Kenga, David Kingatua (Bandari FC), Ayub Timbe (Lierse), Anthony Akumu (Zesco United) and Paul Were (FC Kalloni)
Strikers: Michael Olunga (IF Djugardens), Aziz Okaka (Ushuru FC), Timothy Otieno (Posta Rangers), Jesse Were (Zesco United), Ovella Ochieng (Kariobangi Sharks) and Nicholas Kipkurui (Zoo Kericho).
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