NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – In the absence of Victor Wanyama, striker Michael Olunga has been handed the armband to lead Kenya out for Sunday’s international friendly match against the Uganda Cranes at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani.
Olunga is one of the most experienced players in coach Francis Kimanzi’s young squad and he will be entrusted in leading the squad in the tactician’s first game in charge.
Wanyama will miss the tie after he stayed behind in London to try and finalize on a move out of Tottenham Hotspur but with that failing, Kimanzi decided to give him a rest while he looks at other options he has at his disposal.
“It is my responsibility as a player. I have played for the national team since 2015 and with several players not being able to come in, it is just for us who are there to step up and fill the void. I will be coming in to fill the void left by Victor and that’s an honor for me. I will try to lead by example and score as many goals as possible,” Olunga said.
Wanyama will be one of the many senior players who will not be available for the tie.
Joseph Okumu has been given time to settle at his new club in Sweden, Johannah Omollo is out injured, Ismail Gonzalez is missing after a luggage mix up in Madrid while Aboud Omar has not travelled.
Despite the major absentees, head coach Kimanzi says this will be an opportunity for the other players to step in.
“You cannot replace individuals, but you have to work with what you have. You have to give the other players an opportunity. There is no need to panic when you miss some key players because of legitimate reasons, but you have to take the chance and look at the depth you have. We need to give others a chance to surprise us. Maybe we can have a new discovery,” the tactician stated.
Olunga will be looking to translate the form he has picked up back in Japan playing in the Japanese J2 League with Kashiwa Reysol where he has been banging in goals left right and centre.
“I believe it s a matter of hard work. This time I started out with the team during pre-season and I have tried to adapt to the conditions quickly. I have also worked on my weaknesses and this is what has propelled me to the form I am now,” Olunga told Capital Sport.
Looking on to the game against Uganda, Olunga expects a tough game.
“Uganda are an experienced team. They played in last 16 at the Cup of Nations. It is a friendly but an East African derby as well. We want to grab the bragging rights. We are playing at home; we want to play a good game and all of us are ready to do our level best in this game,” the forward noted.