• Kimanzi tight-lipped over foreign-based players

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May 01, 2012-

Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi has failed to release the names of the foreign-based players in the national team squad.

Last week, deputy coach Yusuf Chipo named a provisional 22-man squad and Kimanzi, who at the time was out of the country, was expected to name the foreign-based players this week.

But Kimanzi who has also ruled out any possiblities of Harambee Stars playing a friendly before they play Malawi on June 2 in their Africa Cup qualifier, has kept the media guessing over who will be in his list.

Speaking to sportsnewsarena.com Football Kenya Federation (FKF) media liaison, John Kariuki, revealed that Kimanzi is not under pressure to release the names.

Kimanzi’s dalliance over the matter could point to the limited options at his disposal following the recent withdrawal of three senior players who form the spine of the team.

The last three months has seen undisputed shot-stopper Arnold Origi, captain Dennis Oliech and midfield star MacDonald Mariga all snubbing national duty for various reasons.

While Origi hanged up his gloves in January saying he wanted to concentrate on his professional club football, the influential duo of Oliech and Mariga deserted the team after sensationally falling out with the federation.

Mariga left the national team training camp in huff just hours to a high-billed Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Togo on February 29,in Nairobi after his demand to get compensation for air ticket travels fell on deaf ears.

While FKF, later reluctantly indicated willingness to meet Mariga half way, the matter has since been slowly swept under the carpet, maybe after reports that he could be ruled out for several months over a knee injury.

The last few weeks have seen Oliech raising a hell over the purported unauthorized use of his image in an East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) billboard.

After weeks of pull and push with an unyielding FKF sticking to its guns, Oliech finally walked out on the team two weeks ago.

The departure of these three players has left Mariga’s younger brother Victor Wanyama as the only foreign-based professional in the team worth his salt.

Wanyama won the Scottish Premier League title last month with Glasgow Celtic on his debut season in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Kimanzi has called up KCB attacking midfielder Paul Mungai Kiongera to the squad. Kiongera takes the place of former Mathare United midfielder Kevin Kimani who flew out to Germany on Monday.

Kiongera has had a good season in the league and grabbed a hattrick last weekend for the bankers in a 3-0 victory over Oserian.

Nesta Kizito

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