KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 17 – Having rotated around Ian Otieno, Patrick Matasi and Faruk Shikhalo for most of his matches since he took charge of the national team, Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi says that Samwel Odhiambo’s performance so far at the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup offers him more options.
Odhiambo was a late call up to the team after the injury to Brian Bwire and he has proved his worth keeping two clean sheets and conceding only one goal in three matches in Kampala.
Kimanzi has admitted that Odhiambo was initially not his first choice, but says he turned things around in training and convinced him to be a starter.
“To be honest we had Samwel as a backup goalkeeper. I didn’t expect him to be in goal in this tournament because we had Timothy (Odhiambo) who had been Ian’s deputy in the last two games and it would have been fair if we saw him,”
“But life is different sometimes to how you see it. We had Samwel coming in and showing something and I think it is good because we have always had a worry that we have only one goalkeeper but I believe now we have so many. Let us see what happens in the semis and in the final if we get there,” Kimanzi told Capital Sport.
He added; “We will also see more of him when we get him to the big stage where you need bigger character.”
The 35-year old Western Stima shot stopper in a previous interview said he is ready if called upon to the senior team and Kimanzi’s comments now mean he is being considered as a possible challenger to Patrick Matasi for the number one jersey.
At the same time, the tactician says he is impressed with the performance of the rookies he tagged along to the Senior Challenge Cup, giving them a score of six out of 10 and saying they are showing signs that they can make a step up.
“I am happy that these players are showing something. You have also to be mindful of the opponent but I can’t say we are disappointed. So far so good. I want to see these players in the semi finals and in the final and also see what happens when they join the other team,”
Their mentality is good, they are looking okay in the technical and tactical aspects that we are testing and working with them. The other one is the men’s stage and we will see how they portray themselves in that stage,” he added.
The tactician is looking to add more depth to his side ahead of a busy 2020 that will see the team compete in the qualifiers of the 2021 African Cup of Nations and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.