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‘Only God supports Harambee Stars’-Amrouche

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OLIECH-BAFANANAIROBI, Kenya, August 30- It has taken Belgian head coach Adel Amrouche six months since his appointment as national football team head coach in February to realise what majority in this nation have known all along.

Only God, the Almighty, intervenes for cash-strapped Harambee Stars to make headway in the game following chronic lack of finances to implement ambitious programmes Amrouche and his predecessors have hatched for the side for well over a decade.

On Friday, Amrouche whose brief was to announce the squad that will face Namibia in their dead rubber last 2014 World Cup qualifier at a media conference told of his frustration on the team’s preparations for key matches but in true Kenyan fashion was quick to peddle hope that all will be well with the meagre resources available. He is sure learning fast.

Turning to the team he rolled-out via his assistant Ken Odhiambo out of the respect of pronouncing his players’ name correctly, first division forward, Rodgers Omondi of Talanta FC and Tusker FC leading scorer, Jesse Were have been handed maiden call-ups in his 27-man squad.

Former captain, record goal scorer and French Ligue AJ Ajaccio striker, Dennis Oliech, is also back to the fold and is in the running to face Namibia.

Amrouche also revealed he will lose the services of number one goalie, Arnold Origi, who is scheduled to go under the knife on his injured arm on the same day in Norway.

“We talk about preparation and friendly games that I agree, but we need Francs, money, where are the sponsors? Nothing? Who helps? We have only God at this moment, its true!

“If we have money and sponsors who help, we would be fine. Last time we played with Adidas, sometimes Puma so we cannot talk about good preparations. Look at the rugby team; they wear suits with their country’s flags and nice uniforms. We cannot talk about Fifa rankings if we play with Adidas, then Puma,” an exasperated Amrouche decried when pressed why his team will be together for just over a week before they welcome Namibia.

Unlike most national football teams, Stars have no kit sponsor among other endorsements with their solo backing coming from the logistics and rights deal they have with East Africa Breweries Limited brand, Tusker.

The head coach expressed his sadness at losing Origi since he was pivotal to his aim to beat Namibia as a platform to the 2015 Nations Cup and 2018 World Cup qualifiers, that is, if he will be there to guide the team.

“Arnold showed me his bandaged arm and I was sad he will not be in the side. Of course, we are playing to win but I build my team from goal. Without a good keeper at the back, the team makes mistakes. We saw how the goal in Nigeria here went in.

“However, we have good players in that position. Namibia are a technical team, they have been together for four years, we need the same here and the door is open to any player as long as they are in good form and have the patriotism to play for the country.”

The inclusion of Omondi and Were was made in his attempt to shift the goal getting burden from the back of Oliech who has served his nation with distinction since 2002.

“Oliech has been going for goals alone and finding them the way he wants but in my team, everyone can score. I like his technique of Omondi and his heart, he is willing to give it all for his nation. Were has been scoring three, four goals in the league and now, let us see whether he can do that in the national team.”

Stars will be led out against Namibia by Victor Wanyama, who joined EPL side Southampton in a record deal in a fixture Amrouche says is among few available for his team that often postpones planned international friendlies of stays idle in the Fifa international windows.

This informed his decision not to spare the Europe based players despite Stars can only look forward to December’s Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup since Kenya are already out of Brazil 2014.

“My aim is the next Africa Cup and World Cup as coach of Kenya if I’m still here and to put structure like the ones I did in the Burundi team that is going to play in CHAN. Cecafa is important but it is not the big thing for me.

“But is you look, 80 percent of the Cecafa squad is in this team.”

Kenya face Namibia having not played since they drew 2-2 in Blantyre on June 12, with the Belgian slamming the lack of proper build-up to competitive games.

Nigeria lead the Group F with nine points and a win over Malawi who are two points adrift will see them seal qualification to the final knock-out phase of the CAF qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.

Namibia in third and Kenya who prop up the pool on three points will be playing for pride as they seek to end their campaign on a high.

SQUAD (All Kenyan based unless stated)

Goalkeepers: Duncan Ochieng (Sofakapa), Wilson Obungu (Bandari(, Fredrick Jerim Onyango (Gor Mahia)

Defenders: David Owino (Gor Mahia), David Ochieng (Tusker), Brian Mandela (Santos/South Africa), Jockins Atudo (Azam FC/Tanzania), Abdallah Juma (AFC Leopards), Aboud Omar (AFC Leopards), Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia), Mohammed Hassan (Ulinzi Stars).

Midfielders: Anthony Akumu (Gor Mahia), Peter Opiyo (AFC Leopards), Victor Wanyama (Southampton/England), Francis Kahata (Thika United), Johanna Omollo (Lommel/Belgium), Patrick Osiako (Simurq/Azerbijan), David Kingatua (Thika United), Paul Were (AFC Leopards), Edwin Lavatsa (Gor Mahia).

Forwards: Allan Wanga (AFC Leopards), Dennis Oliech (AJ Ajaccio/France), Jesee Were (Tusker FC), Raphael Kiongera (Gor Mahia), Kenneth Wendo (Mathare United), Rodgers Omondi (Talanta FC)

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