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Stars planned Mombasa training in doubt

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NAIROBI, Kenya, October 18- A planned training stint in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa for the national football side Harambee Stars is in jeopardy unless agreement can be reached between the team and the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).

Stars, who are on a high after locking archrivals Uganda out of the 2012 Nations Cup a fortnight ago, resumed training for their 2014 World Cup pre-group stage two-legged knockout tie against the island nation of Seychelles.

However, the largely local-based squad that resumed training on Tuesday had only 12 of the called-up 24 players at their Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani camp with the rest released to feature for their club sides in local competition.

Albania based former Sofapaka FC captain, James Situma, is the only foreign based player in camp as he processes his work permit papers before rejoining FC Tirana.

Players from Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and Situma’s former side are missing from the team to feature in the Football Kenya Limited Cup semis on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Last time, when we were preparing for the Uganda match, we laid out a programme to the Harambee Stars Management Board (SSMB) and we moved to camp to Mumias where the weather was similar to Kampala.

“We believe maybe in the last ten days, we shall be moving our camp to Mombasa since Seychelles is a Coastal country and this would help us in the serious training we need to beat them,” Stars team manager, Edward Oduor said Tuesday.

However, head coach, Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno said the clash of the team’s programme and a backlog of domestic fixtures in the league and cup competitions rules out the desired arrangement unless an urgent agreement between the parties is reached.

“We’ve tried it before (negotiations with KPL) and it didn’t work and I do not see it working this time round because KPL have a fixed mind and their league matches have to continue.

“It’s difficult and we have to improvise because even next week, Gor Mahia have a mid-week match on Tuesday and we will not have their players here and it’s a problem.”

The team that is due to leave on November 5 and the coach lamented the domestic fixture congestion had left the technical bench in a tight squeeze.

“Camping in Mombasa will be difficult if like Mumias, we will keep flying them to and from their teams every weekend since we need them for three days each week. We have no planned friendly fixture planned as well and once again, we will have to invite a local side,” he added.

The coach explained contrary to reports, Romania based midfielder, Jamal ‘Malo Malo’ Mohammed was not axed over disciplinary grounds.

“Jamal did not feature in our match against Angola until the last 20 minutes and he was not also in my plans for the Kampala game since my plan for away matches do not suit his style of play. He is still in the squad and what happened in Kampala is not the reason why he is not in the team,” Otieno attested.

The player is said to have thrown a tantrum in the team’s dressing room after the 0-0 stalemate against Uganda Cranes when the coach decided not to field him.

Another player who did not feature in the team is Collins Kisuya, the immediate former AFC Leopards left wing back who is embroiled in a controversial transfer to Belgian side, Germinal Beershot.

“We decided to give him enough time to settle in his new club since it is the right thing to do,” Otieno said of the player whose move has sparked an exchange of words between his former club and KPL, with Leopards insisting he was still their player.
Kenya have to negotiate past the Islanders over two matches with the away leg on November 12 and the home clash three days later.

Should Stars make it through, they will join Nigeria, Malawi and either Djibouti and Namibia who are set to face each other in the pre-group play-offs in Group F.

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