NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – Zesco United forward Jesse Were was one of the major exclusions when immediate former Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne named his squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Were, banging goals left right and centre in Zambia with Zesco was overlooked despite his form, and never made it even to the initial list of 35 called up to start training in Nairobi before the team eventually travelled for a camp in France.
Though he is diplomatic about just how much hurt that snub stung in his heart, Were says it motivated him to work harder and ensure a return to the team.
“Of course I felt bad missing out because it is everyone’s dream to play at the AFCON with their country but again, I am happy that those who were selected experienced it. The coach had his decisions to make and we have a huge squad. He went with the team he felt was the best at the moment and there are no hard feelings for me,” Were said after the team’s training session on Thursday.
Now back in the team after new boss Francis Kimanzi recalled him, Were hopes he can prove his doubters wrong and make a mark for the national team.
“I feel privileged to be back here. Missing out on the AFCON was a huge motivator for me because I always worked hard wanting to win my place back in the team. Now that I am here, I want to give my best and help the country in whatever way I can be it scoring or assisting,” he notes.
Despite making a return to the team, Were might not play part in Sunday’s friendly match against Uganda Cranes in Nairobi after picking up a hamstring strain during last weekend’s Zambian league opener for his Zesco side against Zanaco.
“I have been working with the physios to see if I can be able to be fit for Sunday. We will look at the next two days and see how it feels,” Were noted.
Coach Kimanzi said they had already sent out an invite to the forward before he got the injury and they asked him to travel so that the national team medical team can also assess him and help him a bit with the recovery process.
Were is yet to score for the national team but he says he is optimistic he will break that duck soon with his eyes pegged on the qualifiers for the 2021 Cup of Nations where he hopes he can guide Kenya and make his first ever appearance at the continental championship.
“I believe if we work hard and do our bit, then we can achieve that target. All teams in our group are beatable,” Were noted.