NAIROBI, March 6 – Harambee Stars head coach Bobby Williamson has not given up on progression to the round of 24 in the All Africa Games qualifiers despite his Under-23 charges needing a miracle to overhaul a 3-0 deficit to Egypt from the first leg in Cairo.
The team needs four-goal victory margin in Sunday’s return leg to progress to the second round and Williamson will fancy his chances as he welcomes Kenyan Premier League (KPL) sides Gor Mahia and Sofapaka stars who missed the first leg due to continental cup commitments.
The Scotsman welcomes Gor quartet Michael Olunga, Timothy Otieno, Ronald Omino and Bernard Odhiambo as well as Sofapaka’s Collins Shivachi and Enock Agwanda to the side that he hopes will give the fancied junior Pharaohs a game as he prays for what would be nothing short of a sensational comeback of epic propotions.
“We will only have a good squad if clubs release their players because we don’t want to undergo what we encountered in Egypt but despite the loss, the players exceeded my expectations.
“We possessed the ball and I have never had so many corners against an Egyptian team even when I was in Uganda. We will freshen up things and surprise the Egyptians,” Williamson told Capital Sport after morning training at Kasarani Stadium.
The coach however, noted he will strengthen his forwards who were a letdown in Egypt even as he hailed Bandari’s Victor Ndinya for his effort after hitting the cross bar twice.
“We need to find a striker who can create chances and score; it was disappointing not to have Gor and Sofapaka players who could bring competition to the game especially upfront. We didn’t have a recognized striker but Ndinya played well.”
At the same, Olunga who has had sterling performance at his club is rearing to shock the Pharaohs who have become Kenya’s stumbling block.
“I felt bad missing the game because it’s a national team call up and I wanted to try my best to do my country proud but due to unavoidable circumstances I couldn’t.
“The second leg will be an uphill task because we lost by a huge margin but we are going to play our hearts out and make sure at least we get a goal in the first half so that we can give a final shot in the second. We are at home and we cannot afford to let Kenyans down,” Olunga underscored.
Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa were given byes to the second round as 24 teams battle for eight slots available for the Pan African Games held after four years with Congo Brazzaville hosting the 11th edition in September.
Kenya will field the same team in next month’s Africa Championships qualifiers against Botswana in the two legged tie.
Meanwhile, Williamson declined to comment on the ongoing stand-off between Football Kenya Federation and Kenyan Premier League on who should run 2015 league despite affecting his line of duty.
The coach also reserved his remarks on reports that he has not been paid his salary since November.
“I’m not going to be involved in politics and about salary I’m not prepared to talk about that since its confidential,” the 54 year-old coach who has had stints with Uganda Cranes and Gor declared.