NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 4- Veteran midfielder Stephen Ochollah has been included in the Ulinzi Stars team that will play in the Confederations Cup as the military side named their final squad of 26 to be submitted to the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Ochollah missed the entire 2016 season as he was out on military duty but returned towards the close of last season and has been training with the team.
Also named in the squad is another veteran player Evans Amwoka who was also not actively involved last season. New signing Baron Oketch has also made the cut in the final team.
Winger Ezekiel Otuoma is conspicuously missing from the squad and it might be a hint he will not be offered a new contract with the soldiers after his previous deal expired on December 31.
Ulinzi resumed training on Wednesday ahead of an expected tough season and head coach Benjamin Nyangweso remains positive they will leave an indelible mark on their return to continental football.
The soldiers begin their campaign against Libyan side Al Hilal Benghazi and if they win the two legged tie, they will play Egyptian side Smouha in the first round.
A win over the Egyptians will earn them a spot in the second round where they will be drawn against 16 teams eliminated from the Champions League with the winners qualifying for the new 16-team group stage.
“It is tough because North African opponents are not pushovers. We know the task ahead of us and it is the reason we returned to training early. We want to do a two-week work out within Nakuru then look at planning for friendly matches,” Nyangweso told Capital Sport.
Ulinzi’s last venture in continental football was in 2011 when they bowed out in the preliminary round, losing out 5-1 on aggregate to Egyptian side Zamalek. This year, the Nakuru based side has set its target at getting to the groups.
Meanwhile, new signing Oketch says the allure of playing continental football attracted him to join Ulinzi, revealing he had received offers from his former side Western Stima, Mathare United and KCB.
“I wanted to get playing time because the last six months haven’t been good for me. I haven’t played a lot. I looked at Ulinzi as a good avenue for me because their playing style suites mine. It is also a big team and the prospect of playing in continental football was also attractive,” Oketch said.
He however does not expect to walk straight into the Ulinzi Starting team admits he has a lot to work on especially on match fitness as he hasn’t featured prominently for Gor since he moved to Nairobi in June from Western Stima.
Ulinzi Stars Confederations Cup squad
Goalkeepers: James Saruni, Jacktone Odhiambo, Finius Odhiambo
Defenders: Hassan Mohammed, Omar Mbongi, Hamisi Abdalla, Benson Sande, Geoffrey Kokoyo, Rodgers Omomdi, Oliver Rutto, Cylus Shitote, Brian Birgen.
Midfielders: Churchill Muloma, Stephen Ocholla, John Kago, Boniface Onyango, Samuel Onyango, Justine Onwong’a, Daniel Waweru, Michael Otieno
Strikers: Baron Oketch, Enosh Ochieng, Stephen Waruru, Johnmark Makwata, Evans Amwoka, Oscar Wamalwa