Kenya national football team, Harambee Stars left for Kampala yesterday ahead of the team’s international friendly match against Uganda this afternoon.
Already, eight foreign-based players led by Captain Victor Wanyama, who continue to attract rave reviews at his new English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs have arrived in the country ahead of the friendly scheduled to start at 4pm at the Mandela National Stadium.
Jesse Were (Zesco), David Ochieng (New York Cosmos), David Owino (Zesco), Gonzalez Ismael (Las Palmas), Antony Akumu (Zesco), Jonah Ayunga (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Lelan Joshua (Plymouth Argyle) are the other foreign-based players, who arrived in the country in time for the tour. Apart from Ayunga, who has been left behind and will link up with the team today, the rest left yesterday for the Kampala assignment.
Brian Mandela (Maritzburg FC) was scheduled to leave with his compatriots yesterday while Ayub Timbe (Lierse) leaves this morning. Aboud omar (Slavia Sofia) and in form Swedish-based striker Michael Olunga will fly directly into Uganda from their respective clubs. Stars are expected back in the country tomorrow ahead of their departure to Zambia on Friday.
Today’s match against the best team in the Cecafa region will offer Stars’ good build-up for Afcon’s qualifier against Zambia on Sunday. Being an international friendly, the match will also have huge ramifications on the country’s standing in the Fifa ranking. This is virtually the only ‘competition of significance’ Kenya are still in, having been bundled out of the race for the 2018 World Cup in Russia at the formative stages and are also out of the reckoning for next year’s African Cup of Nations in Gabon for which the Chipolopolo lie in wait in Lusaka.
Having been disgraced in his last time in the national team, Tusker winger Danson Kago has been given an opportunity to redeem himself as he has been included in the 20-man combined travelling party. He will be joined by fellow SportPesa Premier League players of goalkeepers Boniface Oluoch and David OKello.
Play makers Eric Johanna, Francis Kahata and fast-rising Gor Mahia left back Eric Ouma, who is in line to make his first ever national team appearance. Chemelil Sugar’s dynamic midfielder Victor Majid, Ulinzi Stars leading goal scorer and golden boot candidate John Makwata also made the cut.