Harambee Stars First Coach Stanley Okumbi will miss five players he had initially called up for the friendlies against Mozambique and Liberia. The Stars take on the Mambas – who were set to arrive on Wednesday night – on Saturday before playing Liberia three days later. Pacey winger Ayub Timbe has pulled out of the tie citing club commitments with his Belgian Pro League side Lierse SK.
Timbe, who has scored twice in his last three outings with the national team, is joined on the sidelines by two other foreign-based players; David Ochieng (New York Cosmos, USA) and Paul Were (Acharnaikos, Greece). Striker Allan Wanga who played a crucial role in the run for domestic double champions, Tusker FC and Gor Mahia vice-captain Musa Mohammed complete the list. Captain and Tottenham Hotspur midfield ace Victor Wanyama has already landed in the country while Okumbi has to do without the Zesco United trio of Jesse Were, Antony Akumu and David Owino until later Thursday. This is after the Zambian side requested the trio be allowed to honour a mid-week fixture.
“Timbe is out injured and thus will not be available for selection on Saturday, while we have allowed Were and Ochieng to honour upcoming club assignments. “Wanga requested that he sits out during the upcoming fixture due to personal engagements, while Musa was released yesterday after it became apparent that his passport would not be ready before Saturday,” Okumbi stated. Okumbi is unbeaten in his last five outings shrugging off a poor start and intense criticism of his suitability to lead the national team after being appointed to take over from Scottish manager, Bobby Williamson. The former Mathare United and Kariobangi Sharks boss endured a forgettable start, losing 1-0 in both legs of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) to Guinea Bissau in March that knocked Kenya out of the Gabon 2017 finals.
Both friendlies will be played at Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani starting at 4pm local time (+3GMT) with gate charges pegged at Ksh200 all-round free sitting. Meanwhile, Mozambique’s Head Coach, Abel Xavier, has handed a first call-up for 19-year-old star striker Nene as the former Portugal international seeks to rebuild the team that suffered similar continental heartbreaks as Kenya.
Like Stars, the Mambas failed in their 2017 Afcon qualification bid before narrowly losing out in the early stages of the 2018 World Cup preliminaries.