NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – Harambee Stars head coach; Adel Amrouche, will not take chances when they host Comoros in the preliminary round first leg of 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.
The team was boosted by the arrival of Oman based Jamal Mohammed and MC Algier winger Edwin Lavatsa who joined other foreign players in Friday’s training.
The Belgian heaved a sigh of relief after his captain and English Premier League side Southampton midfielder, Victor Wanyama, his elder brother Macdonald Mariga and Belgium based duo of Ayub Timbe and Johanna Omolo arriving on Thursday.
However, after he expressed ‘annoyance’ with the late arrival of the overseas based players, midfielder Francis Kahata (KF Tirana/Albania) and Patrick Osiako (Azerbaijan) were yet to arrive by press time while US based Lawrence Olum simply ‘ignored’ his call-up.
With both sides having been forced to start the qualifiers in the preliminary stage due to poor FIFA rankings, Kenya sitting in 106 has an upper hand in the clash against their opponents who are 184th in the global rankings.
But that does not appear anywhere in Amrouche’s thoughts as he is adamant he will not underrate them, urging his charges to focus and be determined.
“We are taking one match at a time, our main objective is to win Sunday’s match and then think on the return leg. I’m happy to have a full house today and its now upon us to give our best since all the players are in good condition.
“I have told players to give their best and not disappoint the nation and the 40 million Kenyans, I want to call upon all fans to turn up in large numbers and cheer the team since they need the morale.
“We are playing at home and we should not let down our supporters,” Amrouche who will be looking to steer the country to the continental showpiece after a decade said.
The riddle of Amrouche’s starting line-up will be the key to unmask his intentions especially in midfield and upfront after Mariga returned following a three year absence with the likes of Timbe yet to play under him.
But he seems to invest faith on local based players who won him the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup last December after giving most the call-up.
With Norway first choice keeper Arnold Origi, missing in goal since he will is committed to his Lillestrom club and his understudy Duncan Ochieng (Sofapaka) injured, Bandari man, Wilson Obungu is the favourite to stand between the sticks.
At full back Tusker FC‘s Aboud Omar is likely to get the nod on the left, James Situma (AFC Leopards) on the right with David ‘Calabar’ Owino (Gor Mahia) and David Ochieng (Al Taawon/Saudi Arabia) the likely centre-half pairing.
Wanyama, Mohammed, Omolo, Anthony Akumu, Mariga and Lavatsa are the bets to marshal the midfield with Dennis Oliech (AJ Ajaccio/France) and Allan Wanga (AFC Leopards) the probable strikers.
With Amrouche boasting depth, his opposite number Amir Abdou, is a worried man with four key players expected to jet in match day, affording them little time to gel with their team mates.
Captain Nadjim Abdou who plays for English Championship side Millwall, cautioned Stars to expect a rough ride after proving their giant-killing credentials with their 1-1 draw against 2013 Afcon finalist Burkina Faso in a friendly.
“We are a young nation and team but we have come here to compete as well even though we expect a tough match.
“We have the quality and we will be playing for pride of our country and we want to achieve something as well. Kenya has good players I only know Wanyama whom I used to follow when he was a Celtic and Mariga they are good,” the midfielder told Capital Sport Friday after concluding their training at Nairobi’s City Stadium.
“We know Kenya is an experienced side and physically strong so we want to play our game at least different from what we played against Burkina Faso since this is a totally different side,” he added.
The Islanders who first entered qualification for the World Cup and Nations Cup for the 2010 will suffer a blow with the other notable player in the squad namely; France Ligue 2 Nantes’ Atlantique midfielder, Chaker Alhadhur held by his club.
Kenya will face the winner of the Liberia /Lesotho preliminary if they overcome Comoros over two legs and should they progress further, a place in Group C of the final pool qualifiers featuring Burkina Faso, Gabon and Angola awaits.