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Eyes on Zambia as Harambee Stars arrive in Uganda

Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi (left) on the technical bench when Kenya played against Congo Brazzaville in a 2017 AFCON Qualifier.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi (left) on the technical bench when Kenya played against Congo Brazzaville in a 2017 AFCON Qualifier.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29- National football team Harambee Stars have arrived in Kampala, Uganda for an international friendly with their hosts on Tuesday evening ahead of their African Cup of Nations final qualifier on September 3 in Lusaka, Zambia.

Apart from pride and regional bragging rights, head coach Stanley Okumbi says he will be using the match to fine tune his tactics ahead of the dead rubber game against Zambia.

Both teams have no chance of AFCON qualification but the biggest item at stake will be the FIFA rankings.

“We know this has a huge effect on us in terms of our positioning and after the win against Congo, we want to keep up the tempo with another against Zambia. It will be very vital for our motivation as well,” Okumbi told Capital Sport before the team departed for Uganda on Monday morning.

Okumbi outlines sharpening his side’s defensive play in the match against Uganda Cranes especially with the addition of USA-based defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng who has been impressive with New York Cosmos.

 “It will be important for us if we don’t concede. That is the first point we are going to look at. Also, we need to see how well we coordinate as a team and how we progress in attacks. These will be important pointers especially looking forward to Zambia,” Okumbi added.

Meanwhile, Ochieng has expressed his delight at making a return to the national team after close to a year out.

The defender stayed for a whole season without a team after leaving Saudi Arabian outfit Al Tawoon FC but has climbed up the ladder of form with impressive performances for Cosmos, a side he joined early this year.

“It is a huge delight for me to get back into good form and hopefully, I can be able to get into the starting team. I know it is tough because the national team has very good defenders,” he told Capital Sport.

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Okumbi has included uncapped Joshua Lelan who plies his trade with Plymouth in the English lower tier leagues.

“I cannot really judge him much from one session so possibly after the game against Uganda is when I will be able to say much about him.” Okumbi said of the midfielder.

The tactician has also named Tusker FC winger Danson Kago and Ulinzi Stars forward John Mark Makwatta in the squad.

Skipper Victor Wanyama will lead the foreign legion for the Uganda friendly with the Zesco United trio of Jesse Were, Anthony Akumu and David Owino as well as South African based Brian Mandela, IF Djugarden’s Michael Olunga, Slavia Sofia’s Abud Omar, Las Palmas’ Ismail Gonzalez and Lierse’s Ayub Timbe in the fold.

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