NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 17 – Emerging Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi says he will mix up his squad on Sunday when the team goes down against Mauritius in the return leg of the first round 2020 Tokyo Olympics Qualifier in Port Louis.
Carrying a 5-0 advantage from the first leg, Kimanzi will be tempted to play around with the squad and give playing time to players who did not have a chance on Wednesday in Nairobi.
“We had a camp of 22 players and we are only allowed to have 18 on the game. We have a few who did not get a chance to play, not because they are not good but because there are rules. We are not giving presents to anyone but at 5-0, they stand a chance to play and also build their confidence,” Kimanzi said.
The tactician though has made two changes to his squad, the Mathare United duo of Ahmed Ahmad and Lennox Ogutu being named in the team while there’s no place for the England-based duo of Jonah Ayunga and Henry Ochieng.
Ochieng came on as a second half substitute in the first leg while Ayunga was not part of the 18. Kimanzi says the two players have good quality but notes he will take time integrating them into the team.
“When you have a lot of new players from a different culture, it is usually tricky for them in the first time and as a coach you have to be clever when introducing them. They have great quality but you have to build a foundation first before bringing them in,” Kimanzi added.
Among the players likely to be rested include defender and skipper Joseph Okumu who picked up an ankle knock in the first leg and Kimanzi might be tempted to rest him for either Mike Kibwage or Ogutu.
The tactician was impressed with the huge 5-0 win in the first leg that more or less earns them a ticket into the second round of qualification where they will meet the winner between Sudan and Seychelles.
“I think it was a wonderful performance especially because this is a new initiative. When you play the first match and you get the confidence to play the way they did and get a huge win, then it is impressive. They did their best and showed they are ready to play,” Kimanzi further stated.
Meanwhile, Harambee Stars head coach who has been part of the Under-23 technical bench says he has been impressed with some of the players and they stand a chance of making it into the senior team, singling out defender Okumu.
“I like to mix some experience and young players and I think some of them show the quality. They stand a chance to be in the team for AFCON, but they have to work hard. It is good some of them they are very interesting, but in the high level, you have to repeat your performance or even better,” the tactician said.
Meanwhile, he has also stated that if the team makes it to the third round of qualification, he will not call any of them for the AFCON qualifier against Ghana next March as the two tournaments clash dates.