NAIROBI, August 5- Veteran stars, Dennis Oliech and MacDonald Mariga do not have an automatic ticket to play for Harambee Stars despite their surprise inclusion in the squad to face Zambia next month in a 2017 AFCON qualifier in Nairobi.
Stars host 2012 champions, Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) on September 5 and head coach Bobby Williamson has recalled the pair who are record goal scorer, Oliech, 30, and defensive midfielder, Mariga, 28, who is the first and only Kenyan to win the UEFA Champions League.
“They’re in the squad and will be looked along with the rest,” Williamson told Capital Sport on the pair who were the mainstay of the national team for almost a decade before a combination of injury and for Oliech, disciplinary issues so them weaned from national reckoning.
Oliech who is credited with 65 international goals moved from France Ligue 2 side AJ Ajaccio in February to return to the Gulf where he made his name and signed for Al Nasr but is yet to feature for them.
He was stripped of the captaincy and axed from the team by Williamson’s predecessor, Adel Amrouche, in the run-up to their 2014 World Cup qualifier away to Malawi and he subsequently refused to travel with the side to Blantyre in June 2013.
Mariga, the elder brother of captain and Southampton FC midfield rock, Victor Wanyama, went down with cash strapped Parma FC of Italy who went bust mid season and will now play in the Serie D (fourth division) as punishment for bankruptcy.
Stars report for residential training next week ahead of the crunch Zambia tie with all team tied at a point a piece in the group following opening round draws.
Kenya held Congo Brazzaville to a 1-1 stalemate away after Chipolopolo were held to a barren draw at home by Guinea Bissau.
Victory will see Kenya remain top of the standings after taking early command courtesy of the away result with Zambia propping Group E.
Oliech trained with Williamson’s squad ahead of the Congo trip but was never in contention for a place.