NAIROBI, Kenya, December 14- With a cloud hanging over the fate of Frenchman Henri Michel at the helm of Harambee Stars, the man of the moment, James Nandwa is raring to weave his magic on Sunday when the team takes on Burundi in an Africa Home Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifier.
The team with a contingent of 19 players departed for Bujumbura on Friday afternoon optimistic they will forge a result that will put them in good stead to qualify when the second leg is played in Nairobi on January 5.
“Burundi are a good team but we are going there to get something from the game and I’m confident we shall do it with this team,” Nandwa said shortly before departure.
He has named Sofapaka FC keeper, Duncan Ochieng as his captain having seen him impress between the posts at the recently concluded CECAFA Tusker Cup where Nandwa led the team to the finals, losing 2-1 to hosts Uganda after Michel gave the tournament a wide berth.
Upon return, Nandwa was confirmed as an assistant to the Frenchman by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) who went ahead and placed him in charge of the CHAN campaign.
“Michel will concentrate on preparing the team for the World Cup qualifiers in March. We want Nandwa to continue with the job he has been doing with our local players since he seems to know how to get them to perform,” FKF boss Sam Nyamweya stated on Wednesday.
The former Rangers FC coach who was relegated from the Tusker Premier League last month had only three days with the team that was training under Michel.
“The players have gelled within the time we have been together and although Burundi have the home advantage, I believe we shall force a result,” Nandwa asserted putting paid to the short stint he has had with the side.
Apart from Ochieng, Nandwa drafted in David Cheche, Edwin Lavatsa, Paul Were and Abdalla Juma from the CECAFA Tusker Cup squad to the team while Sony Sugar striker, Ismail Dunga axed from the team.
Kenya beat Burundi 1-0 the last time they met in 2009 in Nairobi with the Heroes winning the only other encounter between the pair by the same scoreline in 2007.
A good result in Bujumbura will be another reason to seal the fate of Michel, a veteran of four World Cup campaigns, with FKF top brass said to have ran out of the cash to pay him his reported Sh4m monthly salary.
Michel was quoted in local media saying he was close to packing his bags and leaving the country after he was ejected from the rented apartment he has been living over non-payment of bills.
GOALKEEPERS-Duncan Ochieng (Sofapaka), Boniface Oluoch (Tusker)
DEFENDERS-James Situma, George Owino, Eugene Asike, Abdala Juma (Sofapaka), Edwin Wafula(AFC Leopards), David ochieng (Tusker) Chris wekesa (Gor Mahia)
MIDFIELDERS-Charles okwemba(AFC Leopards), Athony Akumu (Gor Mahia), Osborne Monday (Sofapaka)
FORWARDS-Paul Mungai(KCB), Clifton Miheso, Francis Kahata, Moses Arita (Thika United), Edwin lavatsa, Andrew Tololwa(Mathare),Wesley Kembo (Western Stima)
OFFICIALS-Coach James Nandwa, Kennedy Odhiambo (assistant), Gabriel Olang (team manager), Gullam Hussein Hassan (goal keeping coach)