NAIROBI, March 4 – National Super League side Kariobangi Sharks midfielder Patillah Omotto has been recalled to the national football team Harambee Stars as coach Stanley Okumbi named his first squad since taking charge.
The provisional squad of 35 players will report residential camp on Monday to prepare for the back-to-back 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Guinea Bissau away March 23 before welcoming the Guineans four days later.
Omotto, who returns to the national team for the first time since 2012 when he was in the squad that reached the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup final in Uganda, joins his club mate Ovella Ochieng (striker) and Zoo Kericho’s Nicholas Kipkurui as the only players from the second tier league.
AFC Leopards custodian Lukas Indeche, who has so far conceded two goals this season, leads the eight players who earned their maiden call ups.
Ovella Ochieng, Kipkurui, Eugene Ochieng (Sony Sugar), Joseph Okumu (Chemelil Sugar), Roy Syamba (Mathare United) Simon Abuko (AFC Leopards) and Ushuru FC forward Aziz Okaka complete the list of the debutants.
Skipper and English Premier League side Southampton FC midfielder, Victor Wanyama, Lillestomme first choice goal keeper Arnold Origi, Zambia’s Zesco United trio of defender David ‘Calabar’ Owino, midfielder Anthony Akumu and forward Jesse Were headline the nine foreign based players.
Others are winger Ayub Timbe and midfielder Johannah Omolo, who both plies their trade in Belgium, Greece based Paul Were and Sweden IF Djugardens’ striker Michael Olunga.
Notable omission from the team is defender David Ochieng who recently signed for New York Cosmos FC.
As expected, SportPesa Premier League champions Gor Mahia have a big share of five players in keeper Boniface Oluoch, centre halves Harun Shakava and Musa Mohammed as well as midfielders Collins Okoth and Francis Kahata.
Okumbi, is expected to introduce his new philosophy as he aims a dream start when he will be in the dugout for his first assignment since replacing Scotsman Bobby Williamson.
“I have confidence and faith in my technical bench and players. Our goal is to go out there and start well. There was no need of calling up many foreign based players who end up sitting on the bench.
“It will not take long for the players to adapt in my new style of play since they are professional,” Okumbi underscored.
The former Mathare United head coach will be looking to guide Kenya to her first win in Group E after drawing 1-1 with Congo Brazzaville and losing 2-1 at home to 2012 champions Zambia.
Goalkeepers: Arnold Origi (Lillestrom, Norway), Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Lucas Indeche (AFC Leopards) and Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers)
Defenders: Harun Shakava, Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia), Brian Birgen, Omar Mbongi (Ulinzi Stars), Shariff Mohammed (Bandari), David Owino (Zesco United), James Situma (Tusker FC), Eugene Ochieng (Sony Sugar), Joseph Okumu (Chemelil Sugar) and Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United)
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Southampton FC), Johannah Omollo (Antwerp), Collins Okoth, Francis Kahata (Gor Mahia), Patillah Omotto (Kariobangi Sharks), Johannah Erick, Roy Syamba (Mathare United), Clifton Miheso, Simon Abuko (AFC Leopards), Anthony Kimani, Shaban Kenga, David Kingatua (Bandari FC), Ayub Timbe (Lierse), Anthony Akumu (Zesco United) and Paul Were (FC Kalloni)
Strikers: Michael Olunga (IF Djugardens), Aziz Okaka (Ushuru FC), Timothy Otieno (Posta Rangers), Jesse Were (Zesco United), Ovella Ochieng (Kariobangi Sharks) and Nicholas Kipkurui (Zoo Kericho).