Three ‘Green Commandos’ among eight new U23 call ups

By alex wafula
May 05, 2015
  • Musa Otieno gives instructions to the U23 players at the teams camp at Kasarani Stadium last week.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

Four days to Kenya's return leg of the CAF Under-23 Championship Qualification match against Botswana, Bobby Williamson, the Harambee Stars Coach has called up eight new players into camp, including three from Kakamega High School.

The match will be played on Saturday at the Nyayo National Stadium and the junior stars will be seeking to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg.

Alfred Wekesa, Joseph Okumu and Apollo Otieno could get their first test of national duty as they go into camp with the rest of the squad.

Also called up to beef the squad is Gor Mahia defender Harun Shakava and Thika United midfielder John Macharia who has been in good form this season, being a regular starter for Tim Bryett after spending most of the season on the bench last year under John Kamau.

Masuta Masita from Muhoroni Youth, Nicholas Kipkurui from Zoo Kericho and Moses Mudavadi from Kakamega Homeboyz have also been called up while Michael Olunga returns to the squad after missing the first leg due to school commitment.

Former international Musa Otieno, Bobby’s assistant, is confident the young boys will overturn the score, pointing out he believes Kenya will be in the second round.

“If you look at our opponents, it is not that they were way better than us. They had very minimal activity in front of our goal and only scored due to defensive mistakes. I believe we still have the chance and we can score more than three goals and advance.”

Otieno pointed out. He believes the boys can do it and only hopes lighting will not strike them twice after they bowed out of the All Africa Games Qualifiers in same fashion.

The Starlets lost to Egypt 3-0 away from home and went on to pick up a 1-1 result in Machakos, bowing out of the qualifiers. Otieno believes an early goal will be key in Kenya’s pursuit for a second round ticket.

“Within ten minutes of the start of the second half, they had already scored two in the first leg. It will not be too hard for us to score three or four within 90 minutes. I believe in the boys, I believe in their abilities and it is only a matter of sacrifice and 100% hard work and we will be there.”

At the same time, Bandari coach Twahir Muhiddin blames the numerous call ups his players have received to the national junior team has been the reason his side has posted mixed results of late after a terrific start to the season that saw them sit top at one point.

Bandari’s David Gateri, Victor Ndinya, John Ndirangu and David Gateri who are regular starters with the Coastal side are also frequent call ups to the junior side and Muhiddin laments he has always not had his full squad in training to implement pre-match tactics.

“I always have these players like a day or two before a match and then it becomes very difficult to implement any kind of game plan. Like over the weekend, they will come back on Sunday night, train on Monday morning then we have a match on Tuesday. I think it has really affected our momentum,” Muhiddin lamented.

Full Kenya U-23 squad in camp: Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers), Robert Mboya, Robinson Kamura, Harrison Mwendwa (Mathare United), Collins Shivachi, Enock Agwanda (Sofapaka), David Gateri, David King’atua, Victor Ndinya, John Ndirangu (Bandari), Hillary Otieno, Vincent Odongo (Kariobangi Sharks), Brian Birgen, John Nairuka (Ulinzi Stars), Vincent Omumbo, Jackson Macharia (Thika United), Steve Wakhanya (Chemelil Sugar), Anthony ‘Baggio’ Mbugua Apoel Jerusalem, Israel), Louis Misikho (Nice France), Andrew Murunga (Talanta), Michael Olunga, Harun Shakava (Gor Mahia), Moses Mudavadi (Kakamega Homeboyz), Nicholas Kipkurui (Zoo Kericho), Masuta Masita (Muhoroni Youth), Alfred Wekesa, Joseph Okumu Apollo Otieno (Kakamega High)