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Ovella drafted in as U20 depart for Rwanda

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Harambee Stars players celebrate Ovella Ochieng’s first half goal against Zanzibar during the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup final on December 17, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, KENYA, Apr 19- Kariobangi Sharks forward Ovellah Ochieng, Mathare United’s John ‘Mavado’ Mwangi and Nzoia Sugar’s Patrick Otieno have been drafted into the Kenya squad that departs for Kigali on Thursday afternoon for their 2019 African Cup of Nations Under-20 qualifier return leg against hosts Rwanda on Saturday.

Head coach Stanley Okumbi has moved in to doctor a forward line that proved ill in the first leg missing chance after chance as they aim winning in Kigali to advance to second round tie against Zambia scheduled for May.

“For me, this is not mission impossible. We have a very genuine chance of progressing to the next round and we have worked to improve the finishing which was a problem in the first leg. The players we have brought in have that experience to help us,” Okumbi told Capital Sport before the team departed.

Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi feeds instructions to skipper Alpha Onyango during their African Under-20 Cup of Nations qualifer against Rwanda at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 1, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

But, despite strengthening with fresh legs, Okumbi will miss the services of Musa Masika, younger brother to Harambee Stars winger Ayub Timbe.

Masika picked up a knee injury in the first leg which ended 1-1 and has failed to recover in time for Saturday’s return leg to be played at the Stade Nyamirambo in Kigali.

“In the first leg, I feel we didn’t play to our potential. Our best players didn’t rise to the occasion. If we add at least 20 percent to that effort, I have no doubt that we will progress,” the coach further stated.

Kenya football U20 football team posing for a Team Photo.Photo/TIMOTHY OLOBULU

The Emerging Stars will need either a high scoring draw or an outright win to qualify with the Rwandese having complicated matters with a late away goal in Machakos three weeks ago.

“Rwanda is a very tough team but we have done our homework right. We know what to do to win and playing in an artificial turf will be comfortable for us because we have trained well on the same surface,” the coach further added.

Kenya will be trying its luck to get past the first round of qualification with the last effort in 2016 ending in the first round after disqualification having fielded five players who exceeded the requisite age by a few months.

It was later found out to have been an administrative issue and Kenya survived a ban. They had held Sudan to a 1-1 draw away and were looking to finish the job in Nairobi only for the Sudanese to file a successful appeal.

Traveling Team

Goalkeepers; Humphrey Katasi (Nzoia Sugar), Bryan Bwire (Kariobangi Sharks)

Defenders; Yusuf Mainge (AFC Leopards), Moses Mudavadi (St Anthony Kitale), Ezekiel Nyati (KCB), Boniface Onyango (Kakamega High), Brian Wepo (AcaKoro), Thomas Teka (Nzoia Sugar).

Midfielders; Ndemi Keegan (Bandari FC), Erick Kipkirui (Kariobangi Sharks), Richard Odada (Unattached), Alpha Onyango (Gor Mahia), Fidel Origa (Kariobangi Sharks), Vincent Wasambo (Kariobangi Sharks), Patrick Otieno (Nzoia Sugar).

Forwards;

Sydney Lokale (Kariobangi Sharks), John Mwangi (Mathare United FC), Abraham Dawo (Police FC), Ovella Ochieng (Kariobangi Sharks), Austin Ochieng (Kayole Youth).

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