NAIROBI, March 18 – Former Thika United and Posta Rangers tactician John Kamau has been appointed Harambee Stars Under-20 head coach.
This appointment comes less than two weeks before the junior national team travels to Sudan where they will play the neighboring country in the first round of the Africa Under-20 Championship qualifiers.
Kamau makes a return to the team after previously serving between 2013 and 2014.
In 2013, he led the Kenyan Under-20 team to the COSAFA Cup in Maseru Lesotho, losing 2-0 to South Africa in the final.
The following year, he handled the team in the Under-20 qualifier where they lost to Tanzania in the first round on post match penalties.
“I’m happy to be handed this mantle again and bearing in mind the wide pool of experienced and qualified coaches in the country, I feel privileged to have been considered. It is a huge challenge but I’m glad that different from the previous years I have been in charge, things are looking up this time because of better organization,” Kamau told Capital Sport.
Kamau will be deputized by former Western Stima assistant Hezbon Nyabinge while former Harambee Stars goalkeeper Willis Ochieng’ will be the keepers’ trainer as FC Talanta Assistant coach Ben Omukuba takes over the role of team manager.
Kamau carries with him a rich history of success with the youth having ensured he consistently pushed Thika United to a top half finish during his reign, mostly with youthful players.
He guided the Thika Under-19 team to the title of the inaugural KPL Under-19 tournament in 2011 and while as head coach of the senior side pushed them to the final of the KPL Top 8 Cup in 2013.
Kamau and his new technical bench will get into work immediately with the initial squad of 31 players expected to be in camp on Monday ahead of the first round qualifier against Sudan on April 2 in Khartoum.
If Kenya manages to beat Sudan over the two legs, they will book a date with Malawi in the second round which will be played between May 20 and 22.
Eight teams will qualify for the championship which will be held in Zambia in 2017.
“It’s not an easy challenge but what I would want to insist is that we should not expect instant results. We should invest in structures and build for long term. At the moment, we have a positive start. We will do our best over these qualifiers and possibly improve as we progress,” Kamau narrated.
Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa has reiterated the Federation’s commitment to bettering youth structures in the country, adding they will invest a lot in grass root football.
“We are starting with the Under-20 now, next we move to the Under-17 and progress all the way down. The future of our national team depends on what we do with our youth and as a Federation, these are some of the things we are investing on,” Mwendwa announced.
Among those called up in the provisional squad is Qatar based Ramadhan Katana alias Messi who plies his trade with the Aspire Academy after his impressing performance during the Alkass International tournament in Doha where he was named the Most Valuable Player.
The squad mostly consists of players from High School with a sizeable number from Premier League clubs.
Gor Mahia’s Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma, Ulinzi’s Cliff Kasuti, Thika United duo of Collins Okumu and Michael Mutinda, Chemelil’s Joseph Okumu, Western Stima’s Kenneth Mugambi, City Stars’ Oliver Maloba and Western Stima’s Baron Oketch are some of the top tier regulars called up.
Full national Under-20 squad
Goalkeepers: Edwin Mukolwe (AFC Leopards), Timothy Odhiambo (Sony Sugar), Mathew Gad (Kisumu Day)
Defenders: Collins Okumu (Thika United), Joseph Okumu (Chemelil Sugar), Kenneth Mugambi (Western Stima), Baraka Badi (Thika United), Eric Ouma (Gor Mahia), Boniface Mukhekhe (St. Anthony’s Kitale) and David Kennedy Owino (Laiser Hill).
Midfielders: Kevin Owino (Laiser Hill), Michael Mutinda (Thika United), Harun Nyakha (Agrochemicals), Said Tsuma (Thika United), Mahia), Oliver Maloba (City Stars), Apollo Otieno (Chemelil Sugar), Cliff Kasuti (Ulinzi Stars), Cliff Nyakeya (Gor Mahia Youth), Vincent Wasambo and Michael Ovella Ochieng’ (Kariobangi Sharks), Amos Nondi (Gor Mahia), Kenneth Owino (Nakuru AllStars), Kibet Kilele (Ligi Ndogo SC),
Forwards: John Macharia (Laiser Hill), Eugine Mukangula (Thika United), Derrick Onyango (Mathare United), Alfred Wekesa (AFC Leopards), Baron Oketch (Western Stima), Nicholas Kipkirui (Zoo Kericho), Ramadhan Katana (Aspire Academy), Boniface Muchiri (SoNy Sugar), Remmy Sheikh (Ligi Ndogo SC).