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Okumbi pleads patience with Jesse Were

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Harambee Stars striker  Jesse Were goes for the ball in a training session on November 11, 2016. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Harambee Stars striker Jesse Were goes for the ball in a training session on November 11, 2016. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13- Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi has urged fans to be patient with striker Jesse Were who has struggled to impose his form in the national team despite doing so well with his Zambian club Zesco United.

In 15 appearances, Were, the 2015 Kenyan Premier League top scorer is yet to score a goal in national colors and was a subject of scrutiny on Saturday as Kenya beat Madagascar 1-0 in a friendly match at Kasarani.

“I think he has the quality and he has what it takes. It is just that luck hasn’t been on his side but I believe he will score for the national team soon. He is a quality player and everyone goes through that rough patch in their careers,” Okumbi said as he stood up for his striker.

Were was deployed on the right side of a 4-3-3 attack by Okumbi in the Madagascar game but still had several chances to score, most of which went begging. The striker though remains confident that he will soon open his account for the national team.

Meanwhile, Okumbi has heaped praises on Posta Rangers attacker Cavin Odongo who made his national team debut during the Mozambique match on Saturday.

Odongo came in for Were with 15 minutes left on the clock and Okumbi was impressed with his performance.

“He made a very big impact in the game because we had been suppressed so much by Mozambique. He managed to open up spaces in their defense and his passing was also very good. It was such kind of a player we needed at that time and he did his work well,” the tactician offered.

Harambee Stars players walk off the pitch at half time during a friendly match against Mozambique on November 12, 2016. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Harambee Stars players walk off the pitch at half time during a friendly match against Mozambique on November 12, 2016. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Stars went for a seventh match without a loss and the Mozambique head coach Abel Xavier, a former Kenyan international was impressed with the team.

“I think they are a very strong team and just like us they are building. I was impressed with how they played, very fast and physical. In the next few years, I know they will be one of the big teams in Africa,” Xavier, who also played for Everton, Liverpool and Middlesbrough said.

Stars will now shift their attention to their second and final friendly match for this year next Tuesday against Liberia’s ‘Lone Stars’.

Speaking on the match, Okumbi hopes his side can improve from their performance against Mozambique especially having failed to match up with the pace of the second half.

“Against Mozambique I think we played well especially in the first half, but I think we need to be more commanding in controlling the game both in attack and defense. We have to ensure we play in the same momentum throughout,” the tactician offered.

He also hinted he will hand more opportunities to players who did not feature in the Mozambique match as he continues building up a team for next year’s 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

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