NAIROBI, September 5 – Harambee Stars will be looking to break its jinx against Namibia’s Brave Warriors when they clash in Saturday’s crucial 2010 World Cup qualifier at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani.
Stars have never beaten the Namibians losing three matches, with the most recent being the 2-1 loss in Windhoek in May this year.
But a first win against the Southern Africans will put Stars ever closer to a place in the final World Cup qualifying rounds.
Currently ranked second in group two, a win will take Stars to ten points with just one game to go and more importantly, it will keep the fate of their qualification in their own hands.
Stars will have to go about beating Namibia without the services of three of its key players.
Auxerre striker Dennis Oliech is suspended, goalkeeper Arnold Origi has still not fully recovered from a knee injury he sustained in June and Titus Mulama is out with a groin injury.
For the plucky Namibians, it’s been a rough ride since that win over Stars. They lost their next three matches, sacked their coach and have replaced almost their entire team in preparations for this game.
New coach Tom Saintfiet is however confident that his warriors will continue their superiority over Kenya.
“Kenya will be missing their key striker Dennis Oliech and we are confident of coming out with victory,” he said earlier this week.
Coach Francis Kimanzi has sprung a surprise by dropping Matahre United defender Anthony Kimani who has started at right back for the last three games.
Ulinzi’s Mulinge Munandi is back in the fold for the first time in more than a year while Joseph Njuguna has also made the final squad of 18.
Kimanzi will have some tough decisions to make ahead of Saturday’s match.
Goalkeeper Noah Ayuko has done a great job since coming on for the injured Origi but the Duncan Ochieng has been in great form of late and is pushing hard for a starting position.
In defence, Munandi is expected to start at right back with the solid pairing of Edgar Ochieng and George Owino continuing their run at the heart of the defence while Joseph Njoroge should start at left back.
Mathare United midfield lynchpin Austin Makacha scored the lone goal in Windhoek and he is expected to be at the base of the midfield with skipper Robert Mambo and Parma’s Macdonald Mariga in central midfield.
Mathare’s Kevin Ochieng had probably his best game against the Namibians and could start at right wing with Czech based striker Patrick Oboya playing wide left.
Angola based striker Allan Wanga is expected to spearhead the attack with Francis Ouma, Jamal Mohammed and Njuguna providing options from the bench.
Namibia hasundergone a complete overhaul and it will be a different side on show from the one in Windhoek. New coach has dropped all but five players form the side that beat Stars in May.
Attiel Mbaha, Richard Gariseb, Quinton Jacobs, Lazarus Kaimbi and Oliver Risser are the survivors.
He will however have the services of Collins Benjamin who missed the first leg match with injury as the plucky Namibians search for first points in four matches.