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Firat includes US-based Kibunguchy, Omala for World Cup qualifier with Gabon, Seychelles

By Cecil Odongo November 10th, 2023 2 min read

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has included three debutants in his 28-man provisional squad ahead of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualification matches versus Gabon and Seychelles.

Kenya will face Gabon in Libreville on November 16, 2023, before confronting Seychelles in Ivory Coast four days later.

The clash against Seychelles will be held in Abidjan on the islanders’ request.

Ivory Coast, Gambia, and Burundi are the other teams in Kenya’s group seeking the automatic qualification berth to compete at the Fifa World Cup which will be staged in 16 cities across the USA, Mexico, and Canada.

The debutants in Firat’s squad include Eric Balecho, a striker attached to the newly promoted Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League side Murang’a Seal. Others are Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) FC defenders Haniff Wesonga and Nabi Kibunguchy, a Central defender attached to reserve Major League Soccer (MLS) side Orlando City B.

Another notable addition is Gor Mahia striker Benson Omala, who is the leading scorer in Kenya’s top-flight league.

Omala’s absence from Firat squad in the recent high-profile friendly versus Russia in Turkey caused significant speculation He joins Masud Juma, Michael Olunga who is based in Qatar, and Kakamega Homeboyz prodigy Moses Shumah in a potent-looking Stars attack.

The three strikers will be tested to their limit against a Gabon side whose new coach Thierry Mouyoma has recalled young defender Urie-Michel Mboula alongside two new goalkeepers, namely Loyce Mbaba attached to popular club Mangasport, and Anse Ngoubi Demba of fifth-tier French club US Raon-l’Etape.

With KCB’s custodian Bryne Omondi injured, Firat has included Bandari’s custodian Joseph Ochuka.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi (Kenya Police), Ian Otieno (Zesco), Joseph Ochuka (Bandari)

Defenders: Nabi Kibunguchy (Orlando City), Hanif Wesonga (KCB), Abud Omar (Kenya Police), Daniel Sakari (Tusker), Geoffrey Ochieng (Gor Mahia), Daniel Anyembe (Viborg), Eric Ouma (AIK), Joseph Okumu (Reims), Johnstone Omurwa (CF Estrela), Amos Nondi (Ararat)

Midfielders: Duncan Otieno (Gaborone United), Teddy Akumu (Sagan Tosu), Duke Abuya (Singida), Ayub Masika (Nanjing City), Kenneth Muguna (Kenya Police), Eric Balecho (Murang Seal), Rooney Onyango (Gor Mahia), Eric Johanna (UTA ARAD), Richard Odada (Aalborg), Alfred Scriven (Hodd), Timothy Ouma (Elfsborg)

Forwards: Masud Juma (Al Faisaly), Michael Olunga (Al Duhail), Moses Shummah (Kakamega Homeboyz), Benson Omalla (Gor Mahia)

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