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Kamau remains focused as Kenya await CAF ruling on U-20

Harambee Stars U-20 head coach John Kamau during training with the team ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations return leg against Sudan on April 23 in Nairobi.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Harambee Stars U-20 head coach John Kamau during training with the team ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations return leg against Sudan on April 23 in Nairobi.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, April 14-The national football Under-20 head coach John Kamau says he will not be deterred by their Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers uncertainty after Sudan filed a complaint with the Confederation of African Football (CAF), alleging Kenya fielded five ineligible players when the two sides clashed in the first-leg in Khartoum.

In the complaint, the Sudanese FA claims Kenya fielded players born in 1996 while the CAF rules states that only players born on or after January 1, 1997 are allowed to play in the qualifiers.

“I am not thinking about that because it is an administrative issue and we have left that to the Federation to deal with it. I am focused on ensuring that we are well prepared for the return leg and ensuring the boys pick up in time,” Kamau told Capital Sport after seeing the side lose 2-1 to SportPesa Premier League side AFC Leopards in a friendly match at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani Thursday.

Sources close to Capital Sport at CAF have disclosed that Sudan’s complaint on five Kenyan players has already been received and is currently being handled by the competition committee with a decision expected a week before the return leg which is scheduled for April 23.

Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa has confirmed that indeed CAF has been in touch with them and they are waiting for communication on the final decision.

“We have put up a very strong case for ourselves with CAF and we are now waiting for their response. We had written to them several times prior to the qualifiers asking of the modalities but they never responded to our enquiries,” Mwendwa outlined.

“The match commissioner should have fed the data from our team into the system and any player whose age does not match the requirement would have automatically been rejected by the system. The match commissioner never did that and when we were in Sudan, he agreed that players born in 1996 should play. It is not an error on our side and we now wait to hear what CAF will say,” Mwendwa added.

The team returned to training on Monday and has already played two friendly matches, losing 1-0 against KCB and to Leopards.

Kamau has made changes to his squad, calling up  KCB midfielder Augustine Eshiwani to boost the side saying the versatile midfielder offers a lot of options to his side noting he can play in either the defense or midfield.

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-Friendly-

AFC Leopards winger Clifton Miheso on the ball against Harambee Stars U-20 skipper Amos Nondi during the friendly match at Kasarani Stadium on April 14th.PHOTO/Timothu Olobulu

AFC Leopards winger Clifton Miheso on the ball against Harambee Stars U-20 skipper Amos Nondi during the friendly match at Kasarani Stadium on April 14th.PHOTO/Timothu Olobulu

In the friendly against Leopards, the two sides were locked goalless in the first period, but Kamau’s side had several chances to score.

Skipper Amos Nondi had a good opportunity in the 23rd minute but he shot straight to the keeper after being fed by John Macharia who had evaded the Ingwe backline with some deft touches.

Ovella Ochieng had a similar chance from a good goal scoring range in the 33rd minute but he shot straight to the keeper as well.

In the second half, Leopards changed three quarter of their team and ten minutes into the half, Lamin Diallo opened the scores with a side foot finish after picking the ball from an Allan Katterega flick on.

The junior Starlets equalised eight minutes later through Ovella who tapped home from close range after substitute Leopards keeper Daniel Kiptoo spilled a ferocious shot from Nondi.

Ingwe regained the lead 15 minutes from time when Diallo finished simply inside the box from a Geoffrey Ouma pass.

“I was working a bit on different formations and trying to work on the fitness as well. We have been in a break for a week and I think that affected our fitness but it is through this friendly matches that we can try and improve.

“I am positive that this side will deliver with one week remaining for us to work on our weaknesses. We have to particularly look at our finishing and ensure we are lethal in front of goal,” Kamau stated.

Kenya held Sudan 1-1 draw in the first-leg away in Omdurman and they will be looking for at least a barren draw in Nairobi to book a slot in second round where they will face Malawi.

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Kamau says his side will not employ defensive tactics and will go for a full attacking flare to ensure smooth passage to the next round.

Kamau will be keenly watching his central defender Joseph ‘Crouch’ Okumu who picked up an ankle injury in the friendly match against Leopards.

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