NAIROBI, Kenya, December 12- The position of Frenchman Henri Michel at the helm of Harambee Stars remains hazy after his newly appointed local assistant, James Nandwa, was given full responsibility to lead Kenya against Burundi in their Africa Home National Championships (CHAN) qualifiers.
Nandwa named the squad on Tuesday as Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Sam Nyamweya confirmed that Michel would ‘focus on the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in March.’
Michel who was hired in September had been preparing the squad that will travel to Bujumbura after passing up the chance to take the team to Uganda for the regional CECAFA Tusker Cup that Kenya lost 2-1 to the hosts in Saturday’s final under Nandwa.
“We brought in Michel for the World Cup project and we have seen it wise to let Nandwa handle the team that will travel to Bujumbura to play Burundi on Saturday.
“He has a good understanding with local players that we do not want to lose at this time and this is a reward for the good job he did in Uganda where Kenya won four matches in a row for thed first time in years,” Nyamweya told.
The immediate former national Under-23 coach drafted in 5 players from the CECAFA team in the squad with Football Kenya Federation (FKF) remaining tight lipped amid soaring speculation that their relationship with Michel, a veteran of four World Cups was souring.
Keeper Duncan Ochieng’, defenders Abdalla Juma and David Ochieng’, as well as forwards Paul Were and Edwin Lavatsa were drafted to the CHAN squad on Tuesday.
The federation chief denied reports there was a rift between them and the Frenchman who has led Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia and Ivory Coast to the World Cup.
“These reports have nothing in them. I wish to clarify that Michel’s experience is needed here and we intend to have stability in our technical bench to ensure the gains we have made do not get lost,” he asserted.
However, the increasing marginalisation of Michel who was hired on a one year contract in September from the national side has been read as pointer to his looming exit from the post after taking charge for only two friendly games Kenya lost against South Africa and Tanzania.
Nyamweya himself hinted as much when he remarked, “Our local coaches are good enough only that they tend to improve when thereis foreign competition.”
The Frenchman has not been at the team’s training camp on Monday having spent two weeks preparing the CHAN side with Nandwa naming the travelling party to Bujumbura on Monday.
Goalkeepers: Duncan Ochieng (Sofapaka), Boniface Oluoch (Tusker)
Defenders: Edwin Wafula (AFC Leopards), George Owino (Sofapaka), James Situma (Sofapaka), Eugine Asike (Sofapaka), David Ochieng (Tusker), Chris Wekesa (Gor Mahia), Abdalla Juma (Sofapaka)
Midfielders: Anthony Akumu (Gor Mahia), Osborne Monday (Sofapaka), Francis Kahata (Thika United), Charles Okwemba (AFC Leopards), Paul Were (AFC Leopards), Andrew Tololwa (Mathare Utd)
Forwards: Kiongera Mungai (KCB), Wesley Kemboi (Western Stima), Moses Arita (Thika United), Edwin Lavasta (Gor Mahia), Ismael Salim (Sony Sugar).