Okumbi names seven debutants for Guinea Bissau assignment

By alex wafula
Mar 04, 2021
  • Another shake up in the national team Harambee Stars with Stanley Okumbi naming seven new players in the 35-man squad. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Newly appointed Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi has named seven debutants in his initial 35-man squad for the twin African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Guinea Bissau.

The new coach, promising to bring a new style and flow of football to the national team has blended youth and experience.

While most of the squad is inherited from his predecessor Bobby Williamson, he has brought in a number of former faces into the team. Among the new faces in the team is Chemelil Sugar young defender Joseph Okumu.

Just fresh from completing his secondary school education, the 17-year old has been impressive for the sugar millers in the opening three games of the season. He is seen mostly as a long term project by the coach.

Also earning a maiden call up is Sony Sugar defender Eugene Ochieng. The centre back has been instrumental for Sony and has grown steadily since being introduced to the senior ranks two seasons ago.

Kariobangi Sharks winger Ovela Ochieng, also a fresh high school graduate has also made the cut in Okumbi’s initial squad. Other new faces are AFC Leopards custodian Lucas Indeche, team mate Simon Abuko and Ushuru striker Aziz Okaka who returned to the country after a brief stint in Sweden.

Returning to the team after a long time out is experienced defender James Situma and Kariobangi Sharks midfielder Patillah Omotto. The latter’s last inclusion in the national team was in 2012 during the CECAFA Senior Challenge in Uganda where Kenya finished second.

Situma, a work horse for Tusker FC who can play in any position at the back four as well as central midfield has also been rewarded due to his industry at the heart of the Tusker team.

“I believe we have gathered a very strong team. We have called in a huge pool of players to assess and have more options. The young players should be learning from the older ones. We are not just looking at these two matches against Guinea Bissau but further than that as well,” coach Okumbi told Sports News Arena.

The team is expected to assemble in camp on Monday March 7. The first leg match will be played on March 23 in Guinea Bissau with the return leg three days later in Nairobi.

Kenya is currently placed third in Group E with a single point. Congo Brazzaville and Zambia top the group with four points each and they play against each other, concurrently as Kenya plays Guinea Bissau.

Six points in both legs for Stars will be more than a huge gift especially hoping either of the top two drop points. Kenya has a chance to go top with six points if Zambia and Congo tie in both legs.

Harambee Stars squad

Goalkeepers: Arnold Origi (Lillestrom, Norway), Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Lucas Indeche (AFC Leopards) and Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers); Defenders: Harun Shakava, Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia), Brian Birgen, Omar Mbongi (Ulinzi Stars), Shariff Mohammed (Bandari), David Owino (Zesco United), James Situma (Tusker FC), Eugene Ochieng (Sony Sugar), Joseph Okumu (Chemelil Sugar) and Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United); Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Southampton FC), Johannah Omollo (Antwerp), Collins Okoth, Francis Kahata (Gor Mahia), Patillah Omotto (Kariobangi Sharks), Johannah Erick, Roy Syamba (Mathare United), Clifton Miheso, Simon Abuko (AFC Leopards), Anthony Kimani, Shaban Kenga, David Kingatua (Bandari FC), Ayub Timbe (Lierse), Anthony Akumu (Zesco United) and Paul Were (FC Kalloni); Strikers: Michael Olunga (IF Djugardens), Aziz Okaka (Ushuru FC), Timothy Otieno (Posta Rangers), Jesse Were (Zesco United), Ovella Ochieng (Kariobangi Sharks) and Nicholas Kipkurui (Zoo Kericho).