NAIROBI, Kenya, June 2- Gor Mahia wonder kid Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma has been drafted in the provisional 25-man Harambee Stars squad as head coach Stanley Okumbi whittled his team ahead of Sunday’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier against Congo.
Also finding a spot in the squad is Spanish based defensive midfielder Ismail Athuman Gonzalez as well as Chemelil Sugar duo of Joseph Okumu and Jaffery Awiti.
However, Gonzalez picked what seemed to be a hamstring strain in Thursday’s session after being pulled out of the training early as a precautionary measure.
Okumbi heaped praises on the Las Palmas midfielder after his 45-minute performance against Sudan and said he has a huge part to play for the national team adding he is the future within the Stars midfield and defense.
The coach is expected to trim the squad further to the 18 who will be on the match sheet for the weekend assignment after their final session on Saturday morning.
Among those who have been dropped from the squad include Kenyan Premier League top scorer Wycliffe Ochomo, who played a combined 77 minutes in Stars friendly matches against Tanzania and Sudan, but was never fortunate to get his name on the score-sheet.
Others who were left out include Posta Rangers midfielder Joseph Mbugua, his team mate keeper Ian Otieno, Kariobangi Sharks’ Ovella Ochieng and KCB’s Tyrus Omondi.
The squad has been holding two sessions a day in a bid to bolster fitness and chemistry ahead of the Congo duel with Okumbi still searching for his maiden win as Harambee Stars coach.
Stiff competition is expected especially on the left side of defense with youngster Ouma having raised a huge case for him to start in his performance against Sudan.
With the experience of Aboud Omar coming into play, Okumbi has a lot of cards to play as to who gets the starting nod.
Okumu might however find it hard fitting into the final team as he still has a lot of growth to do as David ‘Calabar’ Owino, Jockins Atudo, Musa Mohammed, Brian Mandela and Eugene Asike also jostling for that centre-back position.
The team was boosted with the arrival of Sweden based striker Michael Olunga who trained with the rest of the boys after missing both the Tanzania and Sudan friendly matches.
Meanwhile, Congo arrived into the country early Thursday morning and will have a feel of the match venue on Friday evening.
At the same time, Group D leaders Bukina Faso will have a two day stop-over in the country as they prepare to travel to Comoros where they will face the hosts in Moroni in another AFCON qualifier.
The Burkinabes lead Group D, ahead of fellow East Africans Uganda who will be playing away to Botswana in another qualifier.
Burkina Faso and Uganda are both on seven points but the former are on top due to head to head record.