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Finland based Ekhalie replaces Wanyama in Stars’ squad

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Amos Ekhalie goes up against Peter Opiyo in a past match in the Finnish League. PHOTO/COURTESY
Amos Ekhalie goes up against Peter Opiyo in a past match in the Finnish League. PHOTO/COURTESY

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 3 – Finland based midfielder Amos Ekhalie has been called up to the Harambee Stars squad that is travelling to Lubumbashi, DR Congo for an international friendly with the host nation Tuesday as a replacement for skipper Victor Wanyama.

Ekhalie had not been initially listed when head coach Stanley Okumbi named his first 39-man squad, but the 28-year old was sounded for his first call up when Wanyama couldn’t get a flight to Lubumbashi in time after his stellar performance for Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday against Manchester City.

The midfielder who turns out for Finnish top tier side IFK Mariehamn will link up with the team in Lubumbashi alongside Las Palmas’ Ismail Gonzalez, Greece based Aboud Omar and IF Djugardens’ Michael Olunga.

Okumbi has named eight local based players in his squad to Lubumbashi with Ulinzi Stars shot stopper James Saruni earning a slot in the travelling party for the first time.

“I feel really privileged for the coaches to show their faith in me. I have been working very hard and these are the fruits of hard work. I am looking forward to the challenge,” Saruni told Capital Sports.

Ulinzi Stars keeper James Saruni prepares to launch an attack during a past match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.
Ulinzi Stars keeper James Saruni prepares to launch an attack during a past match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.

Gor Mahia defender Musa Mohammed and his team mate Francis Kahata have been ruled out with injury while AFC Leopards’ duo of Bernard Mang’oli and Jack Bruno never turned up for training. Tusker’s Danson Kago is also among the 21 players who were dropped.

“It will be an important match because we are using this to build up for future engagements. It will be a tough match because Congo are not easy opponents but we are ready to give our best,” Okumbi said.

He will also have his eyes on the CECAFA Senior Challenge in December as well as the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) to be hosted in the country and he is expected to give some of the eight locals named a run-in in the match.

The hosts will be using the friendly as a build up to their World Cup qualifier against Libya on October 8.

Among the high profile names in the ‘Red Devils’ squad is Everton winger Yannick Bolasie and Hull City forward Diumerci Mbokani.

Harambee Stars’ travelling squad:

Goalkeepers: Bonface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), James Saruni (Ulinzi Stars)

Defenders: Haron Shakava, Eric Ouma (Gor Mahia), Joakins Atudo (Posta Rangers), David Owino (Zesco, Zambia), David Ochieng (New York Cosmos, USA), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United, South Africa), Aboud Omar (Slavia Sofia, Bulgaria)

Midfielders: Ismael Gonzalez (Las Palmas, Spain), Anthony Akumu (Zesco United, Zambia), Victor Majid (Chemelil Sugar), Amos Ekhalie (IFK Mariehamn, Finland), Rama Salim (MFK Topvar Topolcany), Eric Johanna (Mathare United), Paul Were (Archanaikos, Greece)

Strikers: Jesse Were (Zesco United, Zambia), John Mark Makwatta (Ulinzi Stars), Michael Olunga (IF Djugardens)

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