Okumbi names squad for his first assignment
New Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi has named a familiar squad largely made up of experienced players ahead of his first assignment in charge against Guinea Bissau in late March.
There are, however, a number of unproved talent in the youthful coach’s 35-man squad that was made public late on Thursday.
The team, according to Football Kenya Federation’s new CEO Robert Muthomi, will progress to camp on Monday to prepare for the crunch 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualification double header against Guinea Bissau.
“Considering the first leg match will be a mid week fixture played away from home, we are already making plans to ensure the foreign based legion link up with the squad in Bissau,” Muthomi said.
The foreign based stars called up include captain Victor Wanyama (Southampton), Arnold Origi (Norway), Paul Were (Greece), Micheal Olunga (Sweden), Johanna Omollo and Ayub Timbe (Belgium).
The Zambian based trio of Jesse Were, David ‘Calabar’ Owino and Anthony Akumu have also been handed call ups.
The surprise inclusions to the squad include Kariobangi Sharks duo Patillah Omotto, who is making a return to the team after three years in the cold, and Ovella Ochieng’. Others are Zoo Kericho’s Kipkururi Nicholas, Aziz Okaka and Timothy Otieno, all of whom will be gunning for their first cap.
“The new names have impressed me the most during the past six months. They deserve a chance alongside the more established personnel although it won’t be easy for them. We need all the experience available against Guinea (Bissau),” Okumbi told Nairobi News.
Stars badly need maximum points against the West Africans, with whom they are placed joint bottom in Group E, to revive their chances of playing at the next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
Kenya drew away to the Republic of Congo, and then lost at home to Zambia in her opening two games of this competition last year.
Kenya will face Guinea Bissau on Wednesday 23 March with the return tie set to be played in Nairobi four days later.
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, Zambia), James Situma (Tusker FC), Eugene Ochieng (Sony Sugar), Joseph Okumu (Chemelil Sugar) and Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United, South Africa)
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) and Paul Were (FC Kalloni, Greece)
Strikers: Michael Olunga (IF Djugardens, Sweden), Aziz Okaka (Ushuru FC), Timothy Otieno (Posta Rangers), Jesse Were (Zesco United, Zambia), Ovella Ochieng (Kariobangi Sharks) and Nicholas Kipkurui (Zoo Kericho)