NAIROBI, August 12- Norway-based first choice keeper, Arnold Origi is among the 17 foreign based players called-up by Harambee Stars head coach, Bobby Williamson, for the second 2017 AFCON qualifier against 2012 winners Zambia in Nairobi.
Origi missed the 1-1 opening draw away to Congo Brazzaville after his invitation letter to Lillestrom from Football Kenya Federation (FKF) arrived late and joins a list that includes record scorer, Dennis Oliech and defensive midfielder, MacDonald Mariga whose recalls to the side were earlier confirmed by the Scot.
In the run up to their departure for Congo, it emerged Stars would not have their first choice keeper, Origi in goal with reports initially claiming he had ditched Kenya for Norway where he plies with his trade with Lillestrome.
The custodian came out to fray FKF for denying him a chance to feature in the game after sending the release letter to his Norwegian club late.
“But this is not the reason for my absence for this important game. The reason is that the letter to ask for my release from my club was sent very late and therefore, my club just simply said no.
“I tried pleading because that was the only thing in my power to do but there was no chance and I don’t think there was ever going to be a chance of them releasing me for the game,” the keeper said in a lengthy statement at the time.
“Well done boys. Deserved point away from home. You did what was required, to get something from the game. You should be proud,” Origi wrote on his official Twitter account after the team held Congo to catapult Kenya to top of Group E after Zambia and Guinea Bissau played to a barren stalemate in Lusaka.
Other members of the squad, according to FKF chief executive, Michael Esakwa, will be released later ahead of the September 6 clash against the Chipolopolo in Nairobi.
“The coach has given the preliminary list of foreign-based players within the 15 day window so that we can communicate to their clubs for their release,” Esakwa is quoted in FKF’s website.
“The entire list will be released in due course but we just had to ensure that no player in the coach’s plans is unavailable due to late notification to their club.”
Captain and EPL side midfield lynchpin, Victor Wanyama, a younger sibling to Mariga will lead the foreign cast with US-based defender, Lawrence Olum also earning a recall.
Cecafa Kagame Cup champions, Azam FC striker, Allan Wanga, who is currently mourning the demise of his mother and South Africa PSL side Amazulu’s Paul Werem who has not seen action after his mooted loan move to local champions Gor Mahia collapsed are also in the line-up alongside defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng’.
Others are Zambia-based David ‘Calabar’ Owino, Jacob Keli, Ayub Timbe and Anthony Akumu as well as South Africa-based defender Brian Mandela. Clifton Miheso and Johanna Omollo are also included.
“We are aware that some of the players may have picked injuries but we are hopeful that they can be ready for the match by the time September 6 approaches but the final word and choice rests with the coach.
“He (Williamson) will release the list of locally-based players by next week so that the squad is complete to report to camp on (August) 31st,” the federation CEO added.
Arnold Origi – Lillestrom (Norway)
Brian Mandela – Maritzburg United (South Africa)
David Owino – Zesco United (Zambia)
David Ochieng – Al Tawoon (Saudi Arabia)
Lawrence Olum – Malaysia
Macdonald Mariga – FC Parma (Italy)
Paul Were – Amazulu (South Africa)
Ayub Timbe – SK Lierse (Belgium)
Clifton Miheso – VPS FC (Finland)
Anthony Akumu – Al Khartoum (Sudan)
Victor Wanyama – Southampton FC (England)
Johanna Omollo – Royal Antwerp FC (Belgium)
Dennis Oliech – Al Nasser (Saudi Arabia)
Jacob Kelli – Nkana Red Devils (Zambia)
Allan Wanga – Azam FC (Tanzania)