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For Stars, Warriors test not a dead rubber

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STARS NAMIBIANAIROBI, Kenya, September 6- Kenya, which has already been out of the FIFA World Cup qualifying knock-out stage, will take on Group F rival Namibia, which is out either, seriously at home on Sunday.

Led by their captain, Victor Wanyama, the first Kenyan to play in the English Premier League (EPL) and record goal scorer, Dennis Oliech, who plays in France with AJ Ajaccio, all but one of the eight foreign based players are available to face Namibia.

It was expected that Belgian head coach, Adel Amrouche, would use the dead rubber to put out a team that would feature in December’s regional CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup where owing to its timing, most foreign based players are excused from selection but to the surprise of all, he opted to summon all available fire power.

“I decided to call the professional players since my aim is the next Africa Cup and World Cup as coach of Kenya. Cecafa is important but it is not crucial for me. My work is to get the team playing at the top competitions but 80 percent of the Cecafa squad is in this team.

“It was important I get all my best players available so that I can give my team maximum time to be together. There are not many competitions happening between now and the next qualifiers,” Amrouche stated earlier in the week underlining his mission to win the match, “For the 40 million Kenyans.”

With the country’s Football Kenya Federation (FKF) cash-strapped and barely managing to get by, the wisdom of spending a small fortune to pay for air tickets for foreign based stars with a regional tournament to prepare was baffling.

“Due to financial problems, we never get to play in many international games so we must take what we can get until such a time when companies and other donors will realise only proper investment will drive the team forward,” the Belgian national explained.

Trailing Nigeria (9), Malawi (6) and Namibia (4) in Group F, Kenya are yet to win a match in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and the home fixture against the Brave Warriors has been penned as the perfect opportunity to end the doomed quest on a high.

“Kenya is out of the competition but we should not give up especially with the match against Namibia, we should use this match to improve ourselves ahead of Cecafa,” FKF President, Sam Nyamweya, who is fighting corruption claims brought forth by his former National Executive Committee members said of the fixture.

Oliech, who was sensationally dropped in Kenya’ s last outing away to Blantyre where they drew 2-2 in July by Amrouche after violating camp rules, is relishing his return to the fold as he joined his team mates in underlining their aim to be victorious.

“It’s all about patriotism and such things happen in football. Its giving your best for your nation, that is the pride of every player and I will play my part on Sunday,” the French Ligue 1 striker who leads his nations’ scoring charts told.

The Brave Warriors who arrived in a delegation of 28 members are however, not in Nairobi for a pleasure trip, also seeking to end their botched World Cup qualification run by completing the double over the team they beat 1-0 in Windhoek on Jun. 9, 2012, in the return fixture.

“Even though we beat Kenya in the last fixture that will have no bearing on the Sunday game. Harambee Stars have a decent squad with quality players and that is what we will consider when playing them on Sunday,” their head coach, Ricardo Mannetti said.

Mannetti will be missing the services of his regular captain Da Costa Angula when they take on Kenya on Sunday in Nairobi with the defender picking an abdominal muscle strain in training.

It will be the fourth time Kenya will clash with Namibia with the visitors leading with two victories to one.

But as the two nations battle in Nairobi, all attention in Group F will be focused on the Nigerian port city of Calabar where Africa champions, the Super Eagles will seal qualification to the knock-out phase with a draw with Kenya vs Namibia providing a footnote.

Following are the squads:

Kenya (all local based unless indicated)

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), Peter Opiyo (Tusker FC), 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)

Namibia

Goalkeepers: Efraim Tjihonge (Black Africa), Virgil Vries (Maritzburg United, SA) and Maximillian Mbaeva (African Stars).

Defenders: Larry Horaeb (AmaZulu, SA), Chris Katjiukua (African Stars), Willem Mwedihanga (AmaZulu) Da Costa Angula (Black Africa), Tuhafeni Pekka Hamukwaya (Tigers), Denis Tjetjinda (African Stars) and Freedom Puriza (African Stars).

Midfielders: Denzil Haoseb (Black Africa), Annanias Gebhardt (Tigers), Neville Tjiueza (Tura Magic), Emilio Martin, Petrus Shitembi (University of Pretoria, SA), Willy Stephanus (Black Africa), Riaan Cloete (African Stars), Deon Hotto (African Stars) and Heinrich Isaacks (Maritzburg United, SA).

Strikers: Marko van Wyk (Black Africa), Jerome Louis (Black Africa), Pinehas Jacob, Sadney Urikhob (both AmaZulu, SA) and Roger Katjiteo (Black Africa).

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