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Stars to rotate squad for Zanzibar decider

Harambee Stars head coach Farncis Kimanzi (left) consults with his assistant Zedekiah Otieno during a training session in Namugongo, Kampala on December 13, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 13 – Harambee Stars assistant coach Zedekiah Otieno says they will rotate the team for Saturday’s CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup final Group B match against Zanzibar to ensure most of the first team players are fresh heading into the semi-finals next week.

Stars have already qualified for the semis but will need a point from Zanzibar to progress as group winners while the islanders must win against Stars to keep their hopes of a semi-final alive.

Otieno, who will hold brief for the suspended Francis Kimanzi for the second game made only two changes in the team that won 2-1 against Sudan, keeping nine of the players that started the opening game against Tanzania.

“Definitely we will have to change some players. It is difficult to play a tournament and use the same players for all the matches because by the time we get to the final there will be a lot of fatigue. Rotation is very key and we are trying to get it right,” Otieno told Capital Sport.

Among the players who might get their chance against Zanzibar include youngster Musa Masika, Mathare’s Roy Okal as well as Clifton Miheso and Timothy Otieno who have come off the bench in the last two games.

Harambee Stars players David Owino and Musa Masika during a training session in Namugongo, Kampala on December 13, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Anthony Wambani who missed the match against Sudan with illness might also get a run in after training well with the rest of the squad on Monday evening as they did their session in Namugongo, in the outskirts of Kampala.

Zico, working closely in consultation with his boss Kimanzi might choose to rest some of the key players including midfielder Lawrence Juma who has played many games for club and country already.

Stars expect a tough duel against the islanders whom they beat to clinch the title in 2017 with Otieno saying they expect them to come all out tough as they seek a winner.

“It was difficult to judge them against Tanzania because that was a derby and sometimes the emotions and intensity of the game are different. But we expect a very tough game because they are a worthy opponent,” Otieno stated.

Harambee Stars assistant coach Zedekiah Otieno shouts instructions on the touchline during their CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup match against Sudan at the Lugogo Complex in Kampala on December 11, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

He added; “We will have to concentrate and be alert to focus in our game plan which is to take the three points and top the group.”

Meanwhile, the coach states they are happy with what the players have given so far especially with the long term dream of building up the squad depth for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

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Otieno says the players have shown a positive attitude in both training sessions and game situations and expects tough competition for places in the senior national team.

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