NAIROBI, Kenya, December 5- The James Nandwa fairytale as the stand in Harambee Stars coach continues on Thursday when he leads the team out for the CECAFA Tusker Cup semi finals against the Zanzibar Heroes.
Since being sent out with the squad to a tournament head coach Henri Michel and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) top brass did not fancy, the reserved tactician has managed to weave three wins on the bounce with a second string side.
Nandwa who was relegated from the Tusker Premier League with Rangers FC just last month has become the first coach of the national team to achieve three successive wins since 2007.
“Zanzibar will be a tough opponent but our aim is to continue playing well so that we can make the country proud. I want to show that we have good players who need motivation,” the tactician said on Tuesday after leading the team to stun Malawi, rated 28 places above Kenya on the FIFA world ladder 1-0 during the third quarter final.
During the match where his team was under the cosh for most of the second half, Nandwa lost the influential Bernard Mang’oli and Clifton Miheso in midfield and Jockins Atudo at the back.
This necessitated the recall of expelled pair, Paul Were and Kevin Omondi who were sanctioned for breaking team curfew at the back.
A berth in Saturday’s final is at stake for the team should they overcome the islanders who had to endure the lottery of penalty shootout to put down Burundi, the nation that will play the other Stars team in camp on the same day in their Africa Home Nation Championships (CHAN) qualifier.
Were and Omondi were scheduled to return to Kampala on Tuesday night to link up with the teammates they profusely apologised to after their indiscretions.
Defending champions and hosts Uganda take on the rapidly improving Tanzania Mainland in the other semi with Bob Williamson charges who have brought in the crowds keen to stretch their perfect record at the tournament thus far.
The Cranes beat Stars 1-0 in the tournament opener a fortnight ago in a match veteran striker, Mike Baraza, who sunk the winning goal against Malawi said the team, “was still gelling.”