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Olunga set to miss Madagascar friendly

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga during a training session at the National Rugby Centre in Marcoussis, Paris on June 6, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

PARIS, France, Jun 7 – Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne has confirmed that striker Michael Olunga will not start Friday night’s friendly match against Madagascar at the Stade Robert Bobin in Paris.

Olunga only arrived in Stars’ training camp in Marcoussis on Thursday morning and had his first session with the team in the evening, with Migne saying he cannot take the risk of playing him immediately to avoid the danger of picking up injury.

“Olunga travelled today and we cannot take a risk with him. He will not start at the beginning but it will be a good opportunity for other players to show me their qualities,” said Migne of his lead striker who is expected to lead the line at the African Cup of Nations.

The forward had delayed to arrive in Paris after a near tussle between the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and his Japanese club Kashiwa Reysol who had stuttered in releasing their star forward to the national team.

In his absence in the Madagascar friendly on Friday, Migne is set to look at various options who are hungry to prove themselves including the uncapped Christopher Mbamba and John Avire as well as Masud Juma.

Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne with his technical staff during a training session at the National Rugby Centre in Marcoussis, Paris on June 6, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Stars have been in Marcoussis for the past seven days and have been carrying out double training sessions as the coach looks to bulk up the team ahead of their first AFCON game against Algeria on June 23.

Algeria are also camping in France, just like Madagascar and the coaching team of the North African giants are expected to be at the Stade Robert Bobin to scout on their opponents.

But Migne will be concentrating on improving his team ahead of the tourney and he says so far he is happy with what he has seen in training.

“I am happy; the coach is always happy when all players are available for him. It was long but now we have no time to lose. We need to work hard and I think we are on the way, also. I will have some answer during the training session and I will also have some answer after the game against Madagascar because soon I will need to name my final list of 23,” stated the coach.

Harambee Stars skipper Victor Wanyama and teammates Eric Johannah (left) and Paul Were (right) have fun during a training session at the National Rugby Centre in Marcoussis, Paris on June 6, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Biggest on his to do list is building team spirit and a winning mentality, something he said worked well during the qualifiers to help the team qualify for their first African Cup of Nations since 2004.

The tactician is pleased with the work players are putting into training and believes by the time they leave the National Rugby Centre where they are putting up their paces, they will be a much improved side.

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“When you are Kenya you can’t play without good team spirit. We need to keep it and develop a winning mentality everyday on the field. We have good conditions here though there was some rain yesterday but now it is good,” the tactician stated.

-Timothy Olobulu is reporting from Paris, France- 

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