Stars fired-up for Comoros without Olunga


Stars fired-up for Comoros without Olunga
Harambee Stars players celebrate Kenya's opening vs Zambia in an international friendly at the Nyayo National Stadium. (PHOTO/Sportpicha)

In Summary

  • Comoros jetted in on Tuesday evening, slightly over 24 hours before the match.
  • Faiz Selemani of Belgian side Kortrijk, who scored the only goal that earned the side a 1-0 victory over Togo in Lome, highlights the squad that also has Red Star Belgrade’s El Fardou Ben Nabouhane.

Harambee Stars head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee is upbeat his charges will win Wednesday’s duel against Comoros, despite a number of setbacks ahead of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier.

Mulee, who had only two weeks to prepare his team since taking over from predecessor Francis Kimanzi, will have to do without lead striker Michael Olunga whose Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol is temporarily shut down by Covid-19.

Secondly, late arrivals of key players in the team gave Mulee no room to watch them in training, but he is unfazed by the Islanders who lead Group G that has seven-time champions Egypt and Togo.

“Olunga is not here, we knew that at least a week before. I think we have other strikers who can take the mantle. He is a top striker who has done very well for his club but we have to accept the reality that he is not available.

“We have a mission ahead. We knew about this fixture before, it’s just that we know the situation about Covid where everything has changed. It is the new normal we have to live with but looking at what we had in training it doesn’t look that bad,” said Mulee.

A number of players including Captain Victor Wanyama had only a day in camp ahead of the crunch fixture, having featured for their clubs in the last weekend league matches.

“Despite the delays caused by the COVID-19 restrictions, I believe we have trained sufficiently and I hope we will attain a positive result. We respect them (Comoros) but we don’t fear them. They also know it is difficult to get anything out of Nairobi.”

Mulee, credited for propelling Kenya to the 2004 AFCON in Tunisia, has however warned Comoros deserve respect for their exploits so far in the qualifiers.

“We have to respect them for having won away to Togo, that was a big achievement. We however stand on their way because if by any chance they pick any points in Nairobi, which would complicate the group. So, we have to hold them and ensure they don’t extend the gap at the top.”

Veteran goalkeeper Arnold Origi, who is in the team for the first time since 2016, echoed Mulee’s sentiments noting Les Coelacantes are a team to watch out for.

He however charged Stars will be out to not only win, but affirm their quest to return to the biggest African football fiesta for the second time in a row.

“We are here to do something special, to make history with the current group. Something that can be remembered by generations.”

Kenya has two points from 1-1 draws against Egypt (away) and Togo in Nairobi, ahead of Togo who have one.

Meanwhile, Comoros jetted in on Tuesday evening, slightly over 24 hours before the match. Faiz Selemani of Belgian side Kortrijk, who scored the only goal that earned the side a 1-0 victory over Togo in Lome, highlights the squad that also has Red Star Belgrade’s El Fardou Ben Nabouhane.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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