Harambee Stars to travel to Rwanda with depleted team

By alex wafula
Jun 04, 2015
  • Harambee Stars players at the City Stadium.

Coach Bobby Williamson will be forced to travel to Rwanda for the genocide memorial tournament with a depleted squad.

Kenya has been invited for the annual event alongside Tanzania and South Sudan but with the Kenyan Premier League first leg ending this weekend with crucial matches, KPL clubs have held on to their players.

The only ones present early Thursday during the team’s second session were the foreign based and AFC Leopards players.

Other KPL clubs refused to release their players for training as the tournament is not within the FIFA schedule.

Among the foreign based players present during the training session were skipper Victor Wanyama (Southampton), Johannah Omollo (Antwerp- Belgium), Antony Akumu (Al Khartoum-Sudan), Allan Wanga (El Mereikh), Francis Kahata (KF Tirana) and Brian Mandela (Santos, South Africa). Also present was winger Paul Were who is still un-attached.

Skipper Wanyama, is as well not certain of travelling as he says his documents are still with the embassy.

“Well, it is a bit unfortunate that we have had to train with a small number of players because most clubs did not release their players. It would have been apt for the federation to at least postpone the weekend matches so that we have a huge number of players to choose from. But as at now we don’t have many options and we might be forced to go with 14 or 15 players and maybe others might join us later to give others rest,"Williamson said after leading the team through their paces.

He believes though that the tournament will be a good preparatory stage for them preparing to face Congo in Brazzaville on June 13 for the AFCON Qualifiers and a week later against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa for the CHAN Qualifiers.

Good test

“It will be a good field for me to have a look at the players and maybe try different formations to see which one works. Playing competitively also will enhance the cohesion of the team and it is a good opportunity for us. I only wish we would have had a huge team to take there,” Williamson opined.

The knock out tournament will see Kenya play against Tanzania on Saturday at 2pm and a win against the neighbours will see them qualify for the final where they will face the winner between Rwanda and South Sudan.

After Rwanda, Stars will have barely four days of residential training in Nairobi before embarking on their preparations for Congo in their first AFCON 2017 match.

Captain Victor Wanyama is disappointed with the team’s preparations but remains optimistic that they have a chance to make it past the group stages.

The team was forced to train at the Hope Centre ground in Kawangware on Wednesday evening due to the unavailability of Nyayo, Kasarani and City Stadia.

“It is very unfortunate when we as a national team cannot even get somewhere to train.I think our preparations are not very good but we can improve since it is not something very hard. Things can be streamlined and we pick it up from there,” Wanyama noted.

On Kenya’s AFCON campaign and their bid to make a return to the competition after a ten year absence:“It is a good opportunity for Kenya, we need to come together and support the team and it will be an opportunity to show what we have as a country. We have a good chance of making it we need to make it. We are in a difficult group and we only need the support from everyone and unity because at the moment I think we are not united, it is very difficult for the coach because the support for the preparations has not been good.”