Stars duo out of Sierra Leone match

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By CELLESTINE OLILO
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Harambee Stars defender Abud Omar and midfielder Johanna Omollo have withdrawn from the squad ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone on Saturday due to injury.

The two players suffered injuries on club duty late last month, and tests have revealed that they will not be available in time for Saturday’s qualifier away in Leone.

Omar’s withdrawal leaves coach Stanley Okumbi with Georgian-based full back Eric Ouma (Kolkheti Poti and Kariobangi Sharks’ Bolton Omwenga as his only left back options in the squad.

Okumbi faces a major headache in replacing the experienced Omollo, who turns out for Royal Antwerp in Belgium. Omollo has been used as the link between the midfielders and the forwards in recent matches.

Recalled former Mathare United midfielder Eric Johanna (Vasalund IF), Chemelil Sugar’s Victor Majid and Tusker’s Jackson Macharia will make a case for a place in the central midfield that already has skipper Victor Wanyama and Zesco United’s Anthony Akumu.

By Tuesday afternoon, only five foreign-based players had reported to camp. The Zesco United trio of David Owino, Akumu and Jesse Were were expected to arrive later in the day, while striker Michael Olunga, Ayub Timbe and David Ochieng are expected in the country Wednesday morning.

“I am happy with the preparations. We have held training sessions with the majority of the players for more than a week now unlike in some matches where we were getting players very late,” Okumbi said.

“The plan is to try hard and fight for at least one point in this and every away game in the course of the qualifiers.”

The national team players have been in residential training in Machakos since Monday last week, and Okumbi is expected to trim the 30-man squad before the team departs for Sierra Leone on Thursday June 8.

Meanwhile, Football Kenya Federation has confirmed that the newly launched Mafro kits have arrived in the country, but they will only be made available during the matchday on Saturday.

Stars are placed in Pool F in the 2019 Cup of Nations qualifiers alongside Sierra Leone, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Saturday’s clash against Sierra Leone will be Stars’ first match in the qualifiers, after which they will host the Black Stars of Ghana on March 23 next year.

Their next match will be against Ethiopia away on September 5, 2018, and they will return home to host the Walia Ibex in the return match four days later.

Kenya will then wrap up their Nations Cup qualifiers campaign by facing Sierra Leone and Ghana once more in October and November 2018 respectively.

Goalkeepers: Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), James Saruni (Ulinzi Stars), Patrick Matasi (Posta Rangers)

Defenders: Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United), Joseph Okumu (Free State Stars), Erick Ouma (Kolkheti Poti), David Ochieng (New York Cosmos), David Odhiambo (Zesco United), Bolton Omwenga (Kariobangi Sharks), Hillary Echesa (Chemelil Sugar), Jockins Atudo (Posta Rangers), Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia), Pascal Ogweno (Kariobangi Sharks), Robinson Mwangi Kamura (AFC Leopards), Simon Mbugua (Posta Rangers), Marlon Tangauzi (Tusker)

Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspurs), Eric Johanna (Vasalund IF), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe), Anthony Akumu (Zesco United) Ovella Ochieng (Kariobangi Sharks), Samuel Onyango, Stephen Waruru ,Daniel Waweru (all Ulinzi Stars), Duncan Otieno (AFC Leopards), Ernest Wendo (Gor Mahia), Jackson Macharia (Tusker), Victor Majid (Chemelil Sugar)

Strikers: Michael Olunga (Guizhou Zhicheng), Jesse Were (Zesco United), Boniface Muchiri (Sony Sugar), Daniel Mwaura (Mathare United), Joseph Waithera (Wazito FC), Masita Masuta (Nzoia Sugar), Masoud Musa (Kariobangi Sharks)

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