NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – The interwebs were red hot on Tuesday afternoon after Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne named his provisional team for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) with Kenyan football fans expressing their anger at certain choices the Frenchman made.
Biggest on the list of complains was the omission of Zesco United forward Jesse Were as well as defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng from the list. The two had also not been named in the squad that played Ghana in the last qualifier.
And, while naming his squad, the tactician was quizzed on why he once again overlooked the two, especially Jesse Were and said his decision was purely based on what he thought best for the team.
“It’s a choice and it’s always difficult. I need to try to harmonize not the best 23 players in my list but the best group,”
“For Jesse in 26 call ups he has never scored one goal for the national team. I know he is the best striker in Zambia but we also have the best striker in Kenya in the list. Today he is not in my list but tomorrow he is there. Always the player has the answer; maybe it’s a good message for him,” the tactician stated.
On Ochieng, the tactician said he personally called the defender who has since been deployed in defensive midfield role for AFC and personally relayed the message he will not be included in the team.
“With Cheche what I saw during the last game with Leopards was not enough for him. For me he was not ready to play in the high level. Were (Paul) showed me that he wants to participate. Also Piston gave me a lot last year and in India when nobody was there but for me he didn’t play enough, he didn’t perform enough with his club,” Migne further stated.
It is Jesse’s absence from the team that has sparked outrage from football fans especially his stats in the Zambian Premier League with Zesco making up a case for him.
The forward has hit double digit goals in all the seasons he has been in Zambia. In 2017, he scored 18 goals in the league, three in the CAF Champions League and two in the Barclays Cup to bring his season tally to 23.
Last year, the striker scored 18 league goals while this year, he has hit the back of the net nine times in the league and six in the Champions league to bring his tally to 15 with the season not yet over.
However, Migne who has called up Were in his previous training camps but has not played much is swayed to make his decision based on his record in the national team.
In his place, the tactician has preferred to call up Masud Juma who moved to Libya to join Al Nasr Benghazi after leaving his stint in the United Arab Emirates. However, not much stats are available on the former Kariobangi Sharks forward’s portfolio up north.
Cheche moved back to the KPL on short term basis to improve his form and put up a case to be included in the AFCON team after leaving Swedish club IF Bromma and has been playing consistently for AFC Leopards in midfield.
Meanwhile, the tactician has defended his selection especially for the young players saying he has brought them on board to learn from the seniors.
“If you have 34 players with some experience and they are not happy to be on the bench you create trouble for nothing. But if you have someone ready to learn and happy to be there, it’s good. I want positive attitude in my camp,” stated Migne.
Meanwhile, the tactician has affirmed the team’s target in Cairo will be to get in the knock out phase at least. Kenya is in Pool C with Algeria, Senegal and neighbors Tanzania. Top two teams across the six groups make it to the round of 16 and will be joined by the best four third placed ranked teams.
“Obviously we will not travel to Egypt like tourists. When you play a competition it’s to try to achieve your best and it will be the first target for players will be to get to round of 16. Everything is possible but we will take match after match then we will see. We will try write a good story for Kenyan football,” stated Migne.