NAIROBI, Kenya, January 19 – Fifteen Harambee Stars players had so far reported to the team’s camp at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Monday evening in readiness for Friday’s friendly match against African Champions Egypt.
Newly appointed Stars coach Bobby Ogolla told Capital Sport on Monday that he was not concerned about the limited training period he has with the team saying that his main focus will be on creating a side that will work together.
"There’s nothing to do much. We have not come here for any physical exercises but just to come up with a cohesive outfit,” said Ogolla who was previously involved with the national set up as assistant coach under Mohamed Kheri.
"The days are few, I know we have an uphill task but we cannot run away from it. We’ll face it the way it is,” he added.
Ogolla added that the absence of established players will provide an opportunity for some of the players in camp to push for a regular place in the starting eleven.
“You know we have players all over the world, some in the region and others in Europe, but for the players who are here it’s great exposure for them because when they play Egypt, we can unearth some talent so it will eventually help the team,” said Ogolla.
Stars preparation for their encounter against Egypt comes against backdrop of the controversial sacking of Francis Kimanzi who has steered the national side to the second round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which begin in March and to the runners up position of the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) Senior Challenge Cup.
Kimanzi was against the Egypt and several other fixtures claiming that the players he had at his disposal were exhausted after the qualifiers and the CECAFA tournament and that they fall outside the FIFA calendar window for international friendlies.
Kimanzi who is currently preparing his club side Mathare United, who have had five players called to camp, stated on Monday that he will not release the players as he is preparing them for their Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League away match against Zambian Club Zesco on January 31.
However, Football Kenya Limited (FKL) officials said that the fixtures which also included a match against Yemen and a combined club side from Madrid, Spain were fully paid for and that Stars were obligated to honour them.
Ogolla believes that the ongoing controversy will not overshadow the team’s preparations over the next few days.
“As a coach it may disturb me but for the players it has been business as usual and they are continuing to play football,” said Ogolla who is also the tactician of recently promoted Kenya Premier League (KPL) side Sofapaka FC.
Meanwhile, FKL directors Titus Kasuve, Erastus Okul and Chief Executive Sammy Obingo held a meeting with Ministry of Sports top brass which included Assistant Minister Kabando wa Kabando, Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch, Sports Secretary Professor Wilson Lang’at and ministry desk officer for football Richard Ombeba.
In a press release sent to newsrooms on Monday evening and signed by Lang’at, the parley discussed Kimanzi’s sacking and went on to assure the football fraternity and Kenyans that this matter is being addressed and the outcome will be communicated in due course.
Players in camp:
Francis Chinjili (Sofapaka), Sammy Onyango (Tusker), Joakim Atudo ( Sony), Augustine Etemesi (Western Stima), Aggrey Ongoli (Tusker), Joseph Njuguna (Tusker),
Crispine Olando (Thika United), Sebastain Muchera, Joseph Mwangi, Juma Abdalla (Thika United), Anthony Mathenge, Zablon Amanaka (Sofapaka), Anthony Onyango (Gor Mahia)
Technical bench: Bobby Ogolla (Coach), Patrick Naggi (team manager), Wycliffe Makanga (Doctor)