NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 3 – Despite having been bundled out of the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi says they will have so much to fight for when they host Congo Brazzaville on Sunday in Group E’s penultimate round.
Harambee Stars are bottom of the group with a single point, picked from their opening 1-1 draw away to Congo but have since lost three successive matches to Zambia and twice to Guinea Bissau.
Deputy skipper David ‘Calabar’ Owino has promised Kenyans they will get maximum points against the Congolese side.
“We know we have not won any match in the group and it is bad for us. We have to go out there and make sure we win for our nation because the fans desire that. We will not let them down and the morale in camp is high. Everyone wants to perform,” Owino told Capital Sport after the team’s training session on Friday.
The match means a lot to Congo who will be seeking to increase their chances of qualifying for the continental showpiece that will be hosted in Gabon next year, since they sit second in the group on six points, one shy of leaders Guinea Bissau who face Zambia in the other qualifier.
“It is going to be a tough match but we are prepared to go out there and win. The boys have been working hard in training and hopefully, we can build on that and get a result on Sunday. Fans should come and support us and we promise we will not let them down,” Okumbi, who is yet to win a match since being appointed in March, said.
Okumbi expects to field an attacking minded side but a late concern will be the fitness of defender Jockins Atudo.
The Posta Rangers captain, who played on the right side of defence in the friendly against Tanzania last weekend, sat out of Friday’s session with an ankle problem and remains doubtful for the qualifier.
Gor Mahia captain Musa Mohammed is expected to fill in the void and seemed the preferred choice when Okumbi tried out his final combinations as he seeks to churn out a winning outfit for the weekend assignment.
Gor youngster Erick Ouma is also expected to earn his first ever senior cap ahead of Bulgaria based Aboud Omar in the left-back position.
Okumbi’s biggest headache will be the striking force which has been blunt, scoring only twice in the last four matches, once from the penalty spot and the other a late goal from a set piece.
Zesco United top scorer Jesse Were and Sweden based Michael Olunga will be tasked with leading the front in search of goals and Olunga says he is ready for that assignment.
“We know it is a tough match with a lot of expectations but we are prepared to ensure we win. I feel I am in good shape and hopefully I can score goals on Sunday and help the team win,” Olunga underscored.