NAIROBI, MARCH 17- Ten foreign based Harambee Stars players will link up with the rest of the squad in Bissau ahead of the African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Guinea Bissau on Wednesday next week.
Head coach Stanley Okumbi told Capital Sport most of the players will be playing for their respective clubs over the weekend and it will be impossible for them to travel to Kenya and then fly to Bissau.
Stars, who have been in camp since Monday, are expected to depart on Sunday on a chartered plane provided for by the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture.
“Most of the players have matches over the weekend so it will not make sense for them to travel to Nairobi then fly to Bissau. We will just link up with them there, play the match then travel together for the return leg,” Okumbi underscored.
The foreign based players called up are skipper Victor Wanyama (Southampton, England), Arnold Origi (Lillestrom, Norway), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United, South Africa), Ayub Timbe (Lierse Belgium) Johannah Omollo (Antwerp, Belgium), Michael Olunga (Djugarden, Sweden) David Owino, Jesse Were, Anthony AKumu (Zesco United, Zambia) and Paul Were (Kalloni, Greece).
Okumbi remains optimistic the team will churn out a win in Bissau for them to have advantage in the return leg tie four days later when they host the match.
To keep tabs of the race for the single qualification ticket in Group E, Stars need to pick up all points on offer from the two matches.
“Training has been okay and the players are looking forward and fighting for a place in the team. I have been encouraged by the spirit,” Okumbi said.
His sentiments were echoed by South African based Mandela, who has urged his mates to give their all against the West Africans and enhance their chances of returning to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2004.
“It is a tricky match but we should be able to work hard and get wins in both matches. It is possible because there is some new belief within the team. I’m confident we will get six points over the two legs,” Mandela told Capital Sport from his base in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Meanwhile, Guinea Bissau will be without their coach Paulo Torres for both matches against Kenya as he will be beginning a four match ban slapped on him by the CAF disciplinary committee.
The continental football governing body found Torres guilty of using offensive language and insults towards the referee during their goalless draw against Zambia in June.
Torres will miss home and away ties against Kenya as well games against Congo and Zambia.