NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – Defender Joseph ‘Crouch’ Okumu who plies his trade in the South African top tier with Free State Stars has earned a recall to the national football team Harambee Stars as First Coach Stanley Okumbi named a 13-man squad of foreign based players for the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier away to Sierra Leone June 10.
The former Chemelil Sugar center-back’s last appearance for the national team was in November last year during the friendly match against Sudan but has endured a tough patch since, especially after picking up an injury.
The 20-year old managed to wrestle back for a place in his club’s starting team, managing to get playing time in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Chippa United, the last match of the South African top tier.
The rest of the foreign based players are the usual suspects, led by skipper Victor Wanyama who turns out for English top tier side Tottenham Hotspur.
Left-back Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma and midfielder Eric Johanna both who missed the last friendly match against DR Congo in Machakos form part of the team that also has Bulgaria based Aboud Omar and USA based defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng.
Among the missing faces include winger Clifton Miheso and striker John Mark Makwatta who are playing in the Zambian league with newly promoted side Buildcon. Miheso got his first goal for the club this weekend, scoring the winner in a 2-1 result over Green Eagles.
Meanwhile, the local based players kicked off camp on Monday morning with the foreign based stars expected to start arriving on Saturday as most of the European League are over.
The team will now put up residential camp at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, but chances of a friendly match before the trip to Sierra Leone are minimal especially after the late withdrawal of Angola.
Football Kenya Federation had projected for a friendly match with Rwanda in the annual Genocide Memorial Cup in Kigali, but the same now seems far-fetched as the Amavubi, coached by former Harambee Stars boss Antoine Hey have settled on Morocco.
They will play the Atlas Lions in two friendly matches on June 2 and 4, all at the Amahoro National Stadium.
Harambee Stars are taking on a project of qualifying for their first AFCON in 15 years, the last time they featured in the continental showpiece being in 2004. Okumbi who has not lost a match over the last 10 national team games hopes the ride will continue heading into the Cup of Nations campaign.
Harambee Stars foreign based players
Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspur- England), Abud Omar (Slava Sofia- Bulgaria). Anthony Akumu, Jesse Were, David Owino (Zesco United, Zambia), Ayub Masika (Beijing Renhe China), David Ochieng (New York Cosmos USA), Erick Ouma (Kolkheti Poti Georgia), Erick Johanna (Vasalunds IF Sweden), Johanna Omollo (Royal Antwerp Belgium), Joseph Okumu (Free State Stars – South Africa), Michael Olunga (Guizhou Zhicheng China), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg South Africa).