Nairobi, March 19- Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi is not worried with his captain Victor Wanyama’s lack of play time as the national football team prepares to face Guinea Bissau in a back-to-back 2017 African Cup of Nations Qualifier next week.
Wanyama has been out of action for the last six weeks, serving a five match suspension after picking his third red card of the season in Southampton’s 1-0 win over West Ham on February 6.
He has since missed matches against Swansea City, Chelsea, AFC Bournemouth, Sunderland and Stoke City.
The burly midfielder might be in line for a return on Sunday when the Saints host Liverpool at St. Mary’s.
“I am not worried at all because I believe he is a professional and is training hard. He knows he is the captain of the national team and he has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders while a lot is expected of him.” Okumbi told Capital Sports.
The Southampton midfielder is among the ten foreign based players called up to the squad to face Guinea Bissau and they are expected to link up with the rest of the players in Bissau, straight from their club bases ahead of the Wednesday away clash.
Okumbi will be taking on his first assignment since his appointment and he says he is under no pressure despite knowing too well the demands that the job comes with.
The tactician maintains Kenya’s path to the 2017 African Cup of Nations heavily depends on the two fixtures, adding they will be going for an all attack game in both legs.
“We cannot lie to ourselves that we can sit back and defend and wait for the opponents to make a mistake. We need to attack because we are interested on collecting maximum points. It is very important for us to win these matches to keep us in contention for a ticket to AFCON,” the former Mathare United coach stated.
He expects a tough duel from the West Africans but he reckons his charges are up to the task.
The team played a closed door friendly match on Friday evening, losing 1-0 to Posta Rangers but the coach was impressed with how his boys performed.
“At least there’s some good progress despite training for a short time. Individually the players played well,” the tactician added.
Meanwhile, Tusker FC captain James Situma, who makes a comeback to the national team since 2013 is positive that the team will emerge victorious over Guinea Bissau.
Situma, capped 40 times by the national team remains confident Kenya will keep the AFCON dream alive by beating their next opponents home and away.
“We have been training well and the morale in camp is high. Everybody is working hard in training and the best part is the preparation we have had this time round is top notch. I am pleased with everything.
“I feel happy to be back to the national team and I am working hard to make the final cut for the travelling team. We want to go there and get a good result because our campaign hugely depends on the result we get over these two matches,” Situma asserted.
At the same, Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa said they will not pile pressure on the team to ensure they qualify for the 2017 Nations Cup, insisting they will concentrate on first laying the structures.
“2017 is quite tricky, so we can’t really press the boys a lot. We just want them to go in and do their best. We have ensured the small things like allowances, accommodation, training that were a problem in the previous regime has been sorted out. The foreign based players are flying to Bissau on business class,” Mwendwa opined.
The team is expected to leave Nairobi on Monday evening via a chartered flight and will return on Thursday after the match.