• Oliech: Harambee stars will make history in Kampala

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Oct 07, 2011-

Harambee stars captain Dennis Oliech is a man seemingly at peace. Barely hours before they play Uganda in their crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Kampala he is actually happy to be part of the team.

For the Auxerre striker this could be one of the most important matches for him and his teammates. He feels it will be one of the most memorable games for Harambee Stars.

“It is one of those games each player wishes he was playing and would be on the pitch tomorrow,” said Oliech looking rather composed. “It a big game but it will be one of the best moments for us…it could just be like the one against Cape Verde.”

Indeed the last time Kenya qualified for the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 2004, they had to wait until the last game, which they won 1-0 against Cape Verde. OIiech hopes that his optimistic approach will filter down to the squad especially after he talked to Kenya’s best ever goalkeeper Mahmoud Abbas, who was between the post when Harambee stars beat Uganda on post match penalties in their Senior Challenge Cup tie.

“Funny enough today I talked to Abbas and I think it was a blessing because he told me not to be worried or be under pressure. Just to focus and we shall win.”

It is probably what any player needs to hear from an experienced footballer who soaked in pressure at the Nakivubo Stadium almost three decades ago as Kenya recorded yet another historical win against their East African rivals.

It sure has boosted his confidence as he is now looking to a record score for stars in the CAN qualifiers away from home.

“For me this will be a high scoring game…probably 3-1 for Kenya. I am targeting to put in three goals and am sure the other players have their targets as well so maybe 5-1."

It is the same spirit that was reverberating amongst the players and their coaches as they left for Uganda at 2pm on Friday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.

A self belief that after the poor start to their campaign for the 2012 ticket to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon they finally have regained their form albeit late in the qualifiers.

“We have some of the best players on this side of Africa,” acknowledged Musa Otieno, an assistant coach.

“It is time to show what we are made of. They (Uganda) are playing at home. They are under pressure because they haven’t been to CAN in almost three decades. For us, we will just play our game to the best of our ability.”

Head coach Zedekiah Otieno “Zico” believes the team has had one of the best preparations in recent times after about two weeks of training at the Mumias Sports Complex.

“The boys gelled well for the time and there was a positive spirit in camp which is what we need for this crucial game.”

Ramadhan Salim, Jerim Onyango, Moses Arita and Jockins Atudo failed to make the cut and were left out of the traveling squad of 20 players and eight officials.

Arnold Origi is widely tipped to man the goalposts with the quartet of Pascal Ochieng’, Dennis Odhiambo, Osborne Monday and James Situma manning the defense.

Brothers Macdonald Mariga of Real Sociedad and his inform brother Victor Mugubi who has recently impressed at Celtic certain of their position in the midfield.

Prior to the departure, the stars received their traveling kit from the team Sponsors East Africa Breweries who have pumped in Ksh.110million to support the team for their Africa Cup of Nations and 2014 world cup Campaign.

Evelyn Watta

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