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Atletico’s Partey wary of Olunga threat

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Michael Olunga while at training at Namboole Stadium in Kampala before Harambee Stars faced hosts Uganda Cranes in a friendly match in 2016 .PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – Having played together in the Spanish La Liga last season, Atletico Madrid defensive midfielder Thomas Teye Partey has warned his team-mates to be wary of Michael Olunga when Harambee Stars host the Black Stars of Ghana on Saturday in a 2019 AFCON Qualifier at Kasarani.

The two featured in the La Liga with Olunga turning out for Girona on loan from Chinese club Ghuizhou Zhicheng while Partey was playing a starring role with Atletico Madrid, winners of last season’s UEFA Europa League.

“Yeah of course I know much about him (Olunga). He is a good player and he scored several goals while playing for Girona and he has good attributes for a striker. We have to be very careful about him and we should try not to give him any space,” the midfielder noted.

Olunga scored Kenya’s lone goal in the 2-1 loss against Sierra Leone in the opening qualification game and in the absence of star midfielder Victor Wanyama, he is expected to be Kenya’s leading light against the Black Stars.

Ghanaian and Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey in training at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on September 7, 2018 ahead of their 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Kenya’s Harambee Stars. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Partey meanwhile has urged his teammates not to underrate Kenya and he says they expect a tough game, especially with the hosts having lost against Sierra Leone.

“We prepared to come and win but we know it is not going to be an easy game. We cannot underrate Kenya because they are a good team. We just have to go in there and do our job and come off with three points,” further pointed out Partey.

Ghana are in firm control of Group F having won their opening game 5-0 against Ethiopia and a win against Kenya on Saturday would put them in pole position to qualify for next year’s showpiece in Cameroon.

The team jetted into the country on Thursday night after holding a four-day session in Ethiopia and had a training session at the Kasarani Stadium for an hour on Friday.

Ghanaian players in training at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on September 7, 2018 ahead of their 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Kenya’s Harambee Stars. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“We are well prepared for the game because we have had such a good session in Ethiopia where we covered a lot of ground. I think as players and as a team, we are ready for Saturday,” the midfielder further said.

Partey will be among the star names for the game including Leicester City’s Daniel Amartey, Christian Atsu of Newcastle and Inter Milan’s Kwadwo Asamoah.

Head coach Kwesi Appiah has named a transformed squad with a number of players left out including legend Abedi Pele’s sons Andre and Jordan Ayew as well as captain Asamoah Gyan. Partey is expected to take over the captainship in Gyan’s absence.

The midfielder reckons that the team is well blended and expects no problem with the absence of the stars.

Ghana and Leicester City’s Daniel Amartey in training at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on September 7, 2018 ahead of their 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Kenya’s Harambee Stars. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“Most of them are doing well in their clubs and have brought in a lot of talent and some different things to the team. We have won all our past matches and I think as a team we are doing okay,” the midfielder opined.

A familiar face that will be in the Ghanaian team to play Harambee Stars is right back Harrison Afful who currently plies his trade in the USA> The defender was part of the Esperance squad that played against Gor Mahia in the 2014 CAF Champions League when they beat K’Ogalo 8-2 on aggregate.

Kenya deputy captain David Owino was in Gor’s defense during that season.

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