Football Football

Illness, passport hitch force Stars tweak

Harambee Stars head coach, Bobby Williamson. PHOTO/FILE

NAIROBI, June 16 – Tusker FC defender Lloyd Wahome is the latest inclusion to the Harambee Stars squad preparing for Sunday’s Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifier opener away to Ethiopia.

Wahome, who returns to the team for the first time in four years, replaced AFC Leopard’s right-back Edwin Wafula who will miss the trip due to travel documentation problems.

Gor Mahia’s centre-back, Harun Shakava is also ruled out because of illness and head coach Bobby Williamson called-up Mathare United defender Robinson Kamura to the 27-man provisional squad in his place.

The Scot will trim the squad to 20 before Friday’s departure for Addis Ababa.

Williamson who retained 10 of local based players that drew 1-1 away to Congo in the 2017 AFCON opener, recalled KPL top scorer Ali Abondo, Leopards striker Jacob Keli and goal keeper Wycliffe Kasaya who were dropped for the Brazzaville trip.

Abondo, who has netted nine goals this season, is hoping to continue with his good form with the national team.

“It’s an honour to be back in the team because it’s every player’s dream so I’m working hard to get something. As a team we are going for a win since nothing is impossible,” the Gor Mahia midfielder said.

With Stars seeking a first qualification to the biennial showpiece open to domestic players, the Scotsman underscored the encounter against Walya Antelopes will be a big test to KPL players.

“I don’t know much about Ethiopia but I know they don’t know much about us either. Once the game starts, I will see how it develops and make changes if necessary.

“I don’t think they have many players who play abroad so they will probably have a full squad but I believe in the boys because they are very talented.

“It’s a big test because it will tell how strong KPL is. Teams from North Africa spend a lot of money in football, we don’t invest as much as they do and neither does Ethiopia.

“I’m looking forward to see if these guys are capable of stepping up,” Williamson declared after training at Nairobi City Stadium on Wednesday.

With Kasaya returning in the squad, the former Gor Mahia head coach said he will compete with Boniface Oluoch to accompany inexperienced FKF-PL’s Posta Rangers custodian Ian Otieno.

“Kasaya couldn’t make it to Congo because he is experienced; we decided to take Otieno to gain experience. Boniface is a good keeper, he kept good clean sheet and only conceded a penalty.

“He made a couple of saves despite working under a difficult back line so I will take that into consideration before naming a keeper, it could be him (Oluoch) or Kasaya,” the former Uganda Cranes tactician added.

Williamson revealed he will approach the match cautiously bearing in mind most of the players who will feature in the game were in the squad that beat Lesotho 2-1 in their AFCON opener.

“We have a lot of talented players in midfield and upfront so it’s a big decision to make which way to go. I think we will be a little bit be cautious and start with one striker.

“I can’t make any promises if we will win, the most important thing is to stay focused and concentrate but if we get a goal or two it will be fantastic and i believe we can since we are injury free.”

Sofapaka midfielder Anthony Ekaliani Ndolo is yet to report camp and the team boss disclosed they have tried to reach him but the 2015 KPL Player of the Year cannot be traced.

Democratic Republic of Congo were the inaugural CHAN champions in 2009 with Tunisia and Libya winning it in 2011 and 14.

Kenya are expected to host the fifth edition in 2018 after Rwanda host the next one in 2016.

Provisional squad

Goalkeepers: Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Wycliffe Kasaya (AFC Leopards) Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers), Boniface Baraza (Posta Rangers)

Defenders: Brian Birgen (Ulinzi Stars), Sammy Meja (Thika Meja), Robinson Kamura (Mathare United), David Gateri (Bandari), Aboud Omar (Unattached), Jackson Saleh (AFC Leopards), Musa Mohamed (Gor Mahia), Lloyd Wahome (Tusker FC)

Midfielders: Ali Abondo (Gor Mahia), Kevin Kimani (Tusker), Collins Okoth (Gor Mahia), Humphrey Mieno (Tusker), Bernard Mang’oli , Timonah Wanyonyi (AFC Leopards)

Strikers: Michael Olunga (Gor Mahia), Jesse Were (Tusker), Peter Nzuki (Nakumatt), Jacob Keli, Noah Wafula, (AFC Leopards) and Eric Johanna (Mathare United).