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Stars squad to be known 48 hrs to game

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NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22- Kenyans will have to wait until 48 hours before the kick-off of the Harambee Stars 2014 World Cup qualifier against Malawi to know the 23-man squad to face The Flames at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Head coach, Francis Kimanzi, told the press on Tuesday that he would only unveil his team two days to the June 2 encounter insisting focus would remain on preparing the side for the match.

“We only have a few injuries with the players who featured in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) but everything else is going according to plan.

“The important thing is not the squad but the result and we are working to ensure that we play a good game against Malawi who are a tough opponent,” Kimanzi added.

His announcement will only build speculation about the composition of his team with outstanding issues such as whether the team’s captain, Dennis Oliech and keeper Arnold Origi will rescind their decision to retire from the team dominating debate.

“It is not about individual players but the team. At the end of the day, it is the result that will be the basis of the judgement. I have a job to do and I intend to do it without pressure,” he charged.

On the foreign based professionals he would include in the squad to take on The Flames, Kimanzi argued the fascination with overseas players would only serve to create unwarranted distraction in the build-up for the match.

“All the players considered for the national team are professionals and they need support from Kenyans to do well for their country. Singling out individuals is not the way to go.

“As a technical bench, we believe in conducting our work professionally and selecting the players we need to play according to the strategy we have set for the match, regardless of where they play their club football.”

Kimanzi lauded the support the technical bench was receiving from the federation saying although conditions are far from ideal, it was the right path towards re-establishing Harambee Stars as a contender in the continent.

“The players are satisfied with the small changes and we can the see the effort towards making better plans for the team from FKF and this is appreciated.”

The head coach ruled he would not be compelled to announce his team until when the technical bench has analysed all the players in the camp.

“Everyone has a chance to be in the team and it will depend on the effort they put in training and form they are in and after 90 minutes are up, the product of what we are working on will be there for all to see.”

Thus far, Kimanzi has 23 locally based players in training camp at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies.

The match against The Flames will be the first at the Kasarani stadium that has been closed for over two years for renovations.

Latest reports from Malawi say three of their foreign based players have linked up with the team coached by Kinnah Phiri.

Striker Robin Ngalande (Spain), defender James Sangala (Angola) and Jimmy Zakazaka (South Africa) have joined the team that has 16 professionals lined-up for the squad.

Forward Russel Mwafulirwa, keeper Simplex Nthala and newcomer Zicco Mkanda are others playing outside Malawi expected to report to The Flames camp soon.

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