NAIROBI, Kenya, November 23- The conclusion of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) on Saturday that precedes the departure of Harambee Stars to Tanzania a day later is a double edged sword, head coach Francis Kimanzi admits.
“The beauty is for one, you get players whose fitness levels are not in doubt since most of the players we will field in the CECAFA Senior Challenge have been involved in their clubs to the last day.
“The team tactics on the other hand, could present some difficulties because we play the last game on Saturday and have to fly out on Saturday and the first match is on Monday. We have had to train on and off and that is the danger,” Kimanzi stated on Wednesday.
The coach is aiming to shape in side not to concede as he continues the team rebuilding process for the team he took over three weeks ago.
“The starting point of team building is the defensive aspect. We played two matches where we were able to score but we did not concede. My aim is before the end of CECAFA, the collective defensive department of the team will be in shape,” the tactician noted.
According to him, clashing with 2014 World Cup Africa qualifiers rivals, the Malawi Flames in their opener will not be a significant pointer to their clash in the race for Brazil in June.
“I believe what we will see in Tanzania against Malawi in CECAFA will not be the same team we shall see in the qualifier. I assure you they will not the same Kenyan team with a lot of difference from what they experience.
“I’m sure they are faced with challenges of getting their best players for Tanzania but they will give what we have a good test.”
Captain Pascal Ochieng said the regional tourney would be the window for the mainly domestic players to press their case for inclusion in the race for Brazil 2014 and the 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers next year.
“It’s a very good chance for local players and it is a good opportunity for them to show their talent since they could get good offers elsewhere and they could also improve their position in the team for next year,” the KPL side Rangers FC defender charged.
Despite being drawn in a tough pool that includes 2012 Nations Cup finalists, Sudan and neighbours Ethiopia, Ochieng is optimistic the team will rise to the occasion.
“Every game will be tough and we have a strong side that can face any team. We have had very good preparations and the league is coming to an end meaning every player is fit to face the challenge.”
Romania based Jamal Mohammed and James Situma who turns out for Albania’s FC Tirana are the only foreign based players for the CECAFA tournament in Kimanzi’s line-up.
The regional showdown kicks-off in Dar-es-Salaam on Friday and runs through to December 10.