NAIROBI, Kenya, December 20- James Nandwa is relishing the chance of proving his credentials for the Harambee Stars top job by leading Kenya to the next phase of the Africa Home Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers.
Speaking to Capital FM on Thursday, the former Rangers FC and national Under-23 tactician welcomed his appointment to the head coach role following the abrupt departure of Frenchman Henri Michel.
“This is an opportunity for me to work hard to get our country through to the CHAN qualifier against Sudan and I will give my best to ensure that we get past Burundi,” Nandwa added.
Stars are trailing 1-0 from the first leg of their qualifier in Bujumbura played last Sunday and Nandwa has called up five players to bolster the squad as he seeks to overcome the deficit on January 5 when the sides clash in the return leg in Nairobi.
“For the first 20 minutes, we were dominating them and had we scored then, it would have been one of the easiest games for us. We lost concentration for a bit and they scored from range to get back to the game,” the coach who led Kenya to the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup final for the first time since 2008 told of the Bujumbura reverse.
“I have brought in the five players since I noticed we had a weakness in midfield and our defenders were not familiar with each other for the second leg,” Nandwa stressed.
AFC Leopards striker, Mike Baraza, midfielders Paul Were (AFC Leopards), Kevin Omondi and Rama Salim as well as David Owino all of Gor Mahia have been called up to the team that resumes training on December 27 before breaking for a day to mark New Year festivities.
“Were and Omondi will bring speed to the team and they can hold the ball as well as having the ability to take on and go past players since we missed this in Bujumbura.
“I decided to shelve recalling the team yesterday (Wednesday) since there was no need of training for three days then break for Christmas,” the coach who took charge of the CHAN qualifier against Burundi only three days before departure to Bujumbura after Michel went AWOL after preparing the team for two weeks stated.
Nandwa will then select the final squad upon resumption of training in the New Year.
“We shall discuss about my future as coach of the team hopefully after we qualify but for now, the focus is to work on our finishing and ensuring that the team has people who understand each other in all areas of the pitch,” he added.
Kenya were left in a lurch after Michel, communicating through the French Embassy in Nairobi, delivered his quit notice following a contractual dispute with Football Kenya Federation that hired him amid much pomp in September.
“For now, we should focus on winning the next game then, the subject of who coaches the team can be brought up,” was Nandwa’s assessment on the matter.
The winner of the tie on aggregate will face Sudan in June and July over two legs for a berth in the 2014 CHAN finals in South Africa.