NAIROBI, Kenya, June 7- After being scarred by the home draw against Malawi, Harambee Stars departed for Namibia on Thursday determined to restore their Brazil 2014 World Cup hopes by overcoming the Brave Warriors in Windhoek on Saturday.
The contingent of 23 players and officials led by head coach, Francis Kimanzi, left the country with the mission of winning all three points in their second Group F qualifier but they will also be content with holding the hosts as minimal return.
“We must get all the points in Namibia to get our campaign in the group stage back on track and keep our chances of appearing at the World Cup alive.
“I said earlier that it is disappointing not to get maximum points at home but now we have a chance to see if we can disappoint our opponents in their own ground,” Kimanzi said at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport ahead of departure.
Stars were held to a dispiriting barren home draw by The Flames in their opening tie of the CAF 2014 World Cup qualifiers last Saturday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani and the coach promised changes in the team’s approach.
“A lot has changed in terms of preparation for the forthcoming match. When you have to plan a game away, you plan it differently in terms of mental preparations.
“I believe we are very ready since we had our last session last evening (Wednesday) that was very motivating and to see smiles in training is an important reflection of the team believing in what they have to do.
“To get at least a point there, we have worked on our game especially the mental aspect and this will help us to achieve what we have set out to do,” Kimanzi added.
He assured his players had recovered from the jolting start of their road to Brazil 2014 stating they were fired up to make an impression on their pool on Saturday when they face the Brave Warriors who are smarting from a 1-0 defeat to Nigeria.
“They are professionals and in most cases when you have disappointing result you always have to think about the next match that one is already behind us.
“You always have to aim higher because this is the group stage. We are stepping in Namibia to see if we can equalise the opportunity we lost at home, if not we can aim for the minimal which is gaining a point.”
Kimanzi kept his cards close to his chest regarding whether he would give returning Norway based custodian, Arnold Origi the start following the commendable performance of Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions, Tusker FC keeper, Boniface Oluoch against The Flames.
“Boniface did a marvellous job to get point against Malawi and in big games you need a winning keeper and he did so but the return of Arnold who has been among our top players has made the environment in the team to get more settled
“His return has been very positive for the team since we have such a tough campaign, and mentally it is very good you have the best players in the team available and he has given us a huge boost since the depth of goal keeping is stronger.”
Having seen his team fail to shine against a well organised Malawi side, the head coach conceded Stars lacked coherence and he has spent most of the past week working on drilling his side on ensuring seamless transition from defence to attack.
“The corporation between our lines of play was not sufficient and we were very nervous at home since we could not settle down after failing to get an early goal. The game we played in the last ten minutes was not our game; it was not a good show.
“We have tried to work on that and also there are some changes in the team that might bring better flow in our game,” the tactician explained.
Football Kenya Federation national executive member, Hussein Terry, who accompanied the side to Namibia via Johannesburg, disclosed the team had been paid their allowances for the game until Monday.
Stars are scheduled to depart from Namibia on Tuesday for Ghana where they will train for three days before leaving for Lome, Togo for their return leg of the 2013 Africa Nations Cup qualifier on June 16.
Kimanzi will be leading the team to Namibia for a World Cup qualifier for the second time in successive campaigns having lost 2-1 in Windhoek in May 2008 during his first spell at the helm of the side.
Stars then beat the Brave Warriors 1-0 that September in the return leg of the South Africa 2010 qualifiers where Kenya sailed through to the third and final phase of the CAF qualifiers before the head coach was axed in February 2009.
“The mood is very good. I was talking to captain (Dennis) Oliech and he promised Kenyans will be happy on Saturday. We were expecting a win against Malawi but in football you can get any result.
“A draw result at home is not bad and we are expecting to win in Namibia since the players are not under pressure,” Terry summed.
Assistant coach, Yusuf Chippo and goal keeping trainer, Haggai Azande were scheduled to depart later Thursday in an evening flight.
Keepers: Arnold Origi (Ull/Kisa/Norway), Boniface Otieno (Tusker FC), Duncan Ochieng (Sofapaka)
Defenders: Mulinge Ndetto (Ulinzi Stars), Brian Mandela (Tusker FC), James Situma (Sofapaka FC), Jockins Atudo (Tusker FC), Joseph Shikokoti (Tusker FC), Eugene Asike (Sofapaka FC), Dennis Nzomo (Mathare United)
Midfielders: Titus Mulama (St Eloi Lupopo/DRC), Victor Mugube (Glasgow Celtic/Scotland), Kevin Ochieng (Gor Mahia), Humphrey Mieno (Sofapaka FC), Clifford Miheso (Thika United), Jamal Mohammed (Mathare United), Collins Okoth (Gor Mahia), Kevin Kimani (unattached), Patrick Osiako (Petrolul Ploiești/Romania)
Forwards: Dennis Oliech (AJ Auxerre/France), Kepha Aswani (Thika United), Paul Were (AFC Leopards), Patrick Oboya (MFK Ružomberok/Slovakia).
Technical Bench: Francis Kimanzi (Head Coach), Francis Baraza, Joseph Kyenzi (assistant coaches), Haggai Azande (Goalkeeper coach), Wycliffe Makanga (team doctor).