Wanyama optimistic ahead of Stars’ qualifier against Zambia

By alex wafula
Sep 03, 2021
  • Victor Wanyama, the Harambee Stars captain admitted the difficult times at Southampton but is focused on the game against Zambia. happening but all that is behind my back. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Bob Williamson, the Harambee Stars coach will rely on hole support to melt Chipolopolo. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Southampton coach Ronald Koeman left him out of the team that won 3-0 against Norwich City FC last weekend saying Victor Wanyama was not ‘mentally and physically fit’ for the match.

Before this development, Wanyama had missed Southampton’s UEFA Europa League exit to Denmark’s Mitjyiland due to a stomach problem. His exclusion came at the height of a transfer row with his club.

English media had reported that before the Norwich game, Wanyama met with meet Koeman and formerly asked to leave the club. But, the Dutch coach who is unwilling to let any more of first team players out of the team said he was not for sale.

His former coach Mauricio Pochettino was keen to move the Kenyan skipper to Tottenham Hotspurs where he was reportedly set for a better deal with the North London club.

Wanyama was eager to move especially with most of his team mates having left the English South Coast club among them his close friend Morgan Schneiderlin who has joined Manchester United.

Despite all this drama, Wanyama confirmed he is in the right frame of mind and is ready to do duty for the national team which plays Zambia in an African Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday.

“Of course it has been a difficult time for me with all that has been happening but all that is behind my back. I am more focused now and looking ahead at the match against Zambia on Saturday.

About the transfer issues, I am still a Southampton FC player and will give my best to the team,” Wanyama told Sportsnewsarena.com after his first training session with the national team.

Declined to give more transfer details

He declined to comment on whether or not he had tendered a transfer request or if his future lies at St. Mary’s or not. This comes even as it emerged that Southampton were preparing to offer him a new five-year contract that would see him stay at St. Mary’s until 2020.

The midfielder, alongside Greece based Paul Were were the new entrants into the Harambee Stars squad with goalkeeper Arnold Origi expected to link up with the team on Friday.

Wanyama believes Harambee Stars will do well against Zambia because the mood and morale in camp was at an all time high.

“We have a very good team and the squad is a good blend of young and experienced players. I believe we are in good shape to beat Zambia and we only call upon the fans to turn up in large numbers and support us.

It is a big match, a tough one for that matter but we are determined to make it into the African Cup of Nations and these three points will be very vital,” Wanyama noted.

His elder brother MacDonald Mariga will not be available for the match. Bobby Williamson, the coach explained he has been allowed to look into his transfer situation.

Mariga terminated his contract with Italian side Parma who were relegated to the Serie D after their financial crisis.

Williamson is optimistic the squad is sufficient and is stronger than the one available in the first match against Congo. “We have a better team than we did against Congo and definitely we expect to do better and this means we have to win,” Williamson noted.

Zambia are expected to arrive on Friday evening and will have their first training session at the match venue on Saturday evening. The Chipolopolo named their travelling squad to Kenya with skipper Rainford Kalaba expected to lead the team. 

Among the big names in the Chipolopolo squad are Lille’s Stopilla Sunzu, Kalaba’s TP Mazembe team mate Nathan Sinkala and inspirational goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene of South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns.

Harambee Stars’ defender David Owino who plies his trade with Zambian giants Zesco United will not only be facing his club coach George Lwandamina but three of his team mates are in the squad as well.

Full Zambia squad

Goalkeepers: Kennedy Mweene (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Danny Munyao (Red Arrows), Jacob Banda (Zesco United); Defenders: Christopher Munthali (Power Dynamos), Stopilla Sunzu (Lille, France), Aaron Katebe (Maghreb Tetoun, Morocco), Benedict Chepeshi (Red Arrows), Buchizya Mfune (Green Buffaloes), Donashano Malama (Nkana), Boyd Mkandawire (Napsa Stars); Midfielders: Paul Katema (Red Arrows), Chisamba Lungu (FC Ural, Russia), Nathan Sinkala, Rainford Kalaba (Both TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Jack Chirwa (Green Buffaloes), Lubambo Musonda (Gandzasar, Armenia), Solomon Sakala (Kabwe Warriors), Kondwani Mtonga (NorthEast United, India), Benson Sakala (Power Dynamos); Strikers: Winston Kalengo, Jackson Mwanza (Both Zesco United), Collins Mbesuma (Mpumalanga Black Aces, South Africa), Friday Samu (Green Buffaloes).