Okumbi lauds Stars’ fitness levels

Harambee Stars players jog ahead of their training session at Safaricom Stadium on Monday, March 15, 2016. ...
Harambee Stars players jog ahead of their training session at Safaricom Stadium on Monday, March 15, 2016. PHOTO/StaffordOndego/www.sportpicha.com

Head coach Stanley Okumbi has lauded the fitness levels of the Harambee Stars squad ahead of the back-to-back AFCON qualifiers against Guinea Bissau as the national football team seeks to revive its hopes of featuring in the 2017 finals in Gabon.

Okumbi however, expressed concerns over the possibility of foreign-based players failing to join the rest of the squad in time due to fixture congestion at their clubs hoping they will link up with the team on Monday in Bissau.

“The players arrived yesterday and we did some light recovery training in the evening. Today we conducted tests to check out their fitness and their levels are impressive. Actually, we are glad that they are in such good condition as it can only mean they are ready to play,” said Okumbi.

“I have watched footage of Guinea Bissau, I have watched Stars previous games and have already picked the positives from them. I know fans have huge expectations of this team ahead of the tie and I believe we can meet them,” he added.

The former Mathare United and Kariobangi Sharks boss has included eight new faces in his provisional 35-man squad including Chemelil Sugar central defender Joseph Okumu who only recently graduated from high school and Zoo Kericho FC striker, Nicholas Kipkirui who will be fighting to earn their first national team caps.

AFC Leopards goalkeeper Lucas Indeche has also been rewarded for his rich form with a call up to the national team.

“We have a genuine chance to win, we just need to motivate the players and show them we can do it. Players have confidence even when playing away meaning we can do it,” Okumbi stressed.

“We need three points and we will not be working to defend but rather strike and gain the maximum points in every game we will play.” the Stars boss told.

He confirmed that a set of new rules has been put in place to ensure that discipline is enforced in the squad that has been passed on to the players after the team’s previous AFCON qualifier against Zambia was marred by reports of players breaking curfew to party and engage in orgies before the team lost 2-1 at home last September.

The result left Kenya third in Pool E with a point behind the Chipolopolo and Congo Brazzaville (three) with Guinea Bissau (one) propping the group.

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Arnold Origi (Lillestrom, Norway), Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Lucas Indeche (AFC Leopards), Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers)

Defenders: Harun Shakava, Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia), Brian Birgen, Omar Mbongi (Ulinzi Stars), Sharif Mohammed (Bandari), David Owino (Zesco United, Zambia), James Situma (Tusker FC), Eugene Ochieng (Sony Sugar), Joseph Okumu (Chemelil Sugar), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United)

Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Southampton, England), Johannah Omollo (Antwerp, Belgium), 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, Belgium), Anthony Akumu (Zesco United, Zambia), Paul Were (FC Kalloni)

Forwards: Michael Olunga (IF Djugardens, Sweden), Aziz Okaka (Ushuru FC), Timothy Otieno (Posta Rangers), Jesse Were (Zesco United, Zambia), Ovella Ochieng (Kariobangi Sharks), Nicholas Kipkurui (Zoo Kericho)

Report by Paul Kimani

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