Club versus country battle rocks Harambee stars Training camp

May 10, 2011

The reality of club versus country battle dawned on Harambee Stars coach Zedekiah Otieno on Tuesday as the team reported to camp at City Stadium for their June 4 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Only 13 players arrived for training with seven of them contracted by Gor Mahia and Sofapaka staying away to honor Wednesday’s midweek Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match.

Mathare United too had not released their players, as Football Kenya was yet to send a request for their release. United players are expected in camp on Friday.

While naming his squad last Friday, the Stars coach had expressed fears of a possible clash between the team’s programme and the on-going KPL.

On Tuesday the coach said:” This is what I meant when I said we may have problems building a strong team to face Angola next month,”

“My worry is that next Wednesday the same thing will happen as I have to release Gor and Ulinzi players for midweek KPL top eight match and the week after Sofapaka and Western Stima players have to go,”

“The last week will be the same and we don't know how to build a strong team with all this disruptions. I am still appealing to KPL to consider postponing some of this matches to enable us have good preparations,” he said.

With such a chaotic situation in camp Otieno who is also Gor Mahia coach said it is impossible to work on a concrete programme for the team.

“We have an opportunity to train out of the country for at least five days but even that may not be possible because we have league matches until the last week of this month and no team will be willing to let their best players go with us,” he added.

But KPL boss Jack Oguda said the team needs only four days to train. "It is a worldwide practice and even then the bulk of the players who will make the team will be foreign based stars who arrive here in the last week of training. The duration does not matter it is the quality of players he has," said Oguda.

At the same time Otieno has defended his call up of veteran players for the Angola game. 

The Kenyan coach recalled at least seven veteran players some of whom were thought to be heading for retirement and there was a need to bring in fresh legs. 

But  Otieno popularly known as ‘Zico’ surprised many when he called up among others veteran goalkeeper Noah Ayuko who last played for Stars during the 2008 Africa Cup and World Cup qualifiers, Rangers defender Pascal Ochieng and Ulinzi striker Mike Baraza.

“The match dictated that we get experienced players who can  function away. The young players will be frightened and that is why we opted for the ones we have in camp,” he said.

“When Kimanzi called him(Ayuko) up he had been out of the international limelight for many years but everybody saw what he did. He practically won the game for Kenya when the team registered a crucial barren draw away to Zimbabwe.”

The players who had arrived in camp were Boniface Oluoch (Tusker FC), Frederick Onyango (Gor Mahia), Noah Ayuko (Karuturi Sports),Noah Abich (Tusker FC), Joseph Shikokoti (Tusker), Pascal Ochieng (Rangers), Eric Masika (Gor Mahia), Robert Kwaye (Western Stima), Ali Bhai (Western Stima), Joseph Nyaga (Rangers)Chester Okoyo (Ulinzi Stars); Mike Baraza (Ulinzi), Moses Arita (Thika United).


Gina Tivona

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