Stars jet out to face Sierra Leone

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By CELLESTINE OLILO
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National football team Harambee Stars will leave the country at 9.50am on Thursday for Freetown for their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group F qualifier against Sierra Leone on Saturday.

Starts held their final training session Wednesday at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos where all called up players save for striker Michael Olunga who was excused from training as he had arrived from China just that morning.

The other foreign-based players including Tottenham Hotspurs midfield midfielder Victor Wanyama, Georgia-based left back Eric Ouma and the Zesco United trio of Anthony Akumu, David Owino and Jesse Were were also present.

The team was hosted for a luncheon in Machakos after the morning training session where coach Stanley Okumbi named his 20-man travelling party.

Zesco striker Were was the most notable exclusion in the travelling squad. Okumbi explained that the striker had picked up a knee injury in training.

Okumbi told Daily Nation Sport that he was pleased with the quality and duration of training he had had with the players since Monday last week, and assured Kenyans that they will pull every stop to achieve victory over the West African team.

He, however, warned that despite the deep challenges currently being endured by the Leone Stars, it would be unwise to underrated them as they came close to qualifying for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

“I’d like people to forget about the challenges they (Sierra Leone) are going through. I want them to forget our position on the Fifa rankings and I want them to forget our disappointing run in last year’s Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Harambee Stars will meanwhile receive winning bonuses of Sh3 million for this fixture.

This is courtesy of online betting company SportPesa through a sponsorship package. SportPesa Chief Executive Officer Ronald Karauri made this announcement during a luncheon held for the national team ahead of their departure to Sierra Leone.

In his speech, Karauri reminded the players of the enormity of the task ahead and urged them to return nothing but a win on Saturday.

“Kenya is ahead of Sierra Leone in so many ways that I cannot imagine you coming back with any other result except a win,” Karuri said.

Goalkeepers: Boniface Oluoch and Patrick Matasi

Defenders: Eric Ouma, David Owino, David Ochieng, Brian Mandela, Simon Mbugua, Joseph Okumu, Musa Mohammed

Midfielders: Boniface Muchiri, Victor Wanyama, Anthony Akumu, Ayub Timbe, Ernest Wendo, Jackson Macharia, Stephen Waruru, Eric Johanna

Strikers: Masoud Juma, Michael Olunga, Samuel Onyango

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