Picking players for a national team duty must be one of the toughest jobs for a coach and it should be tougher for the players if Bandari’s Collins Agade is to write a script.
Harambee Stars is set to come up against Mozambique on October 13th in Football Kenya Federation brilliant bid to have the national team committed in all the FIFA windows and everyone is already talking about it.
The talk is no longer about the opponent-how weak or strong they are-but the debate has been on the squad assembled by coach Francis Kimanzi in what will be his second assignment at the helm of the team under the regime of Nick Mwendwa.
Kimanzi is slowly getting it right (not my words) if the squad selection is anything to go by. He has recalled players who were given a wide berth in Sebastien Migne’s regime and decided to hand a lifeline to some players who never thought of donning the national team colours.
In a group that has a weak link in the goalkeeping department, Kimanzi has decided to drop Patrick Matasi-a player that has made the number one spot his own in the past two years or so. His reason? That Matasi’s form has dipped and he needed people who are performing at their clubs. That’s an alien thing to the current football fan. Many have never had the luxury of watching merit superseding sycophancy.
If the Matasi news is a shocker, then the exclusion of midfielder Eric Johanna should book you a date with your coffin maker. Having coached Johanna at club level and is one of his mentors, the midfielder has always been seen as the ‘coach’s boy’ but the tables have turned. Johanna has hardly had consistent games with IF Bromma in Sweden and Kimanzi saw it wise to leave him out. Halleluiah.
The unattached of defender Aboud Omar, Ismael Gonzalez and Chris Mbamba didn’t even have a sniff of his first squad when he assembled a team to take on Uganda Cranes.
Samuel Olwande with another bite
Kimanzi has stuck with Samuel Olwande-one of the two Kariobangi Sharks player in the team-despite the defender being in the twilight of his career. But just as Joash, Kimanzi believes the former Chemelil Sugar FC man still has a lot to offer. Furthermore, the right-back position has been a brainer for the national team now that Philemon Otieno (who is a natural midfielder) is out with an injury.
In his bid to give youth a chance, there is goalkeeper Timothy Odhiambo who worked with Kimanzi at the U23 level, Johnston Omurwa who did wonders with him at Mathare and Yusuf Mainge who moved to Slovakia just over a month ago; the ex-Leopards boy a cover for Olwande at right back.
Midfielder Anthony Akumu headlines the list of players that had been given a wide berth in the previous regime. This list has Haroun Shakava (a onetime poster boy of all that went wrong with unpaid dues from the federation) and Akumu’s teammate Jesse Were who had fewer chances with Migne.
Lawrence work rate at Gor Mahia has earned him another chance in the team. This lot doing wonders at their clubs having Ian Otieno of Zambia’s Red Arrows, Duke Abuya of Kariobangi Sharks and Hillary Wandera of Tusker FC.
But as water loses its purity from stagnation, we pray that Kimanzi does not stagnate in calling players who can’t be located when their clubs are on duty.
Statistics from Soccerway and the Transfer Market indicate that Juma has only featured in their league games since joining Algeria side JS Kabylie in July; his guarded defenders have refuted these claims but when asked to produce statistics they have turned to the Hills Kweru to help them cook imaginary numbers.
When Kabylie was denying Horoya a chance to feature in the CAF Champions League in a do or die match that was to be decided in post-match penalties after a tie in the aggregate score, not even the club fans could trace our striker.
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