Okumbi’s charges gear for Afcon tie

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By CELLESTINE OLILO
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Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi believes that he has finally found the right blend of players to handle both the 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan) and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

At the team’s morning training session on Friday in Machakos, Okumbi admitted for the very first time that he previously gambled perilously when making call-ups, before referring to the current squad as the “best” he has ever called up.

“Training has been exciting. We’ve had five days with the local players and they are all very impressive. As you can see there is only one foreign based player but I expect the rest to join camp by Monday next week.

“I think this is the best squad we have ever had. We have been calling up players and releasing them shortly afterwards but right now everyone looks well capable of the tough regional assignments we have ahead of us,” he said.

Stars have spent the last five days camping at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos in preparation for the opening match of the 2019 Afcon qualifiers against Sierra Leone scheduled for Saturday June 10.

This will be Stars’ first competitive match this year, although so far this year they have played three friendly matches against the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Uganda.

The team was scheduled to Angola in yet another friendly on Saturday, but Angola cancelled the trip and opted to remain in residential training in Portugal ahead of their own Afcon qualifiers.

Stars, who recently signed a Sh75 million kitting deal with Singapore-based company Mafro, are expected to leave the country on Thursday morning for Freetown to face the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone.

Of the 11 players called up for the assignment, only Joseph Okumu (Free State Stars, South Africa) had showed up for training by Friday, and the rest are expected to arrive in the course of this weekend.

Team captain Victor Wanyama is already in the country following the completion of the English Premier League season, and is expected to join the squad this weekend.

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