Absence of first choice players Avire and Were, forces coach Migne back to the drawing board

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 25 Jul, 2019 00:00 | 2 mins read
John Avire (c) and Paul Were vie for the ball during Harambee Stars training in Cairo, Egypt. The duo are yet to report to camp for the CHAN qualifier against neighbours Tanzania. Photo/SPORTPICHA
James Waindi @PeopleSports11

Harambee Stars head coach Sebastian Migne may have to rely on the services of untested Nicholas Kipkurui of Gor Mahia and Ulinzi’s Enos Ochieng in the absence of his preferred first choice striker  John Avire when the national team face rivals Tanzania in a crucial Africa Nations Championships qualifier in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

Avire who featured for Stars at the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo, Egypt, playing in two group matches, against Senegal and Tanzania, is yet to report to camp, on the eve of the team’s departure to Tanzania, forcing the French coach to start thinking other options.

AFC Leopards winger Paul Were who was also named to the team, is the other player yet to report to camp.

Were’s whereabouts is unknown as he is yet to even join his club for pre-season training, while Avire who was at the centre of a controversial move to the Egyptian league, that cost Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Chief Executive Officer Robert Muthomi his job, is still missing and believed to be training with Egyptian second division side Tanta SC without the blessings of his parent club Sofapaka who are yet to issue him with a release letter as they claim he still has a running contract with them.

Ochieng who was the top scorer in the local league last season, could be a worthy bet for Migne, but he has never been tried and tested at the national team level. The same to Kipkurui who enjoyed a fine season with Gor Mahia.

Migne’s other options upfront are newly signed Wazito striker Derrick Otanga who joined from Sony Sugar, Kariobangi Shark’s Sydney Lokalo who put up a cameo performance against Everton and other Wazito forwards Pistone Mutamba and Musa Masika.

Tanzania who lost 3-2 to Stars in their thrilling Group C match, will be seeking revenge on home soil, making the stakes for this weekend’s qualifier very high. The return match will be at the Kasarani Stadium on August 4.

Only three players from the Tanzania team that took part in Afcon, will be missing in action as they are plying their trade in foreign leagues.

The trio are Simon Msuva who plays for Moroccan first division side Difaa El Jadida, Thomas Ulimwengu (JS Saoura) and their captain Mwana Samata who features for Genk in Belgium. 

Kenya is hoping to make a maiden appearance at the continent’s biggest football competition, which is exclusively reserved for players featuring in their respective domestic leagues. Should Harambee Stars go past Tanzania in the first round, they will come up against Sudan in the second and final qualifying round.

“Of course it’s going to be tough against Tanzania. Most of the players they had at Afcon were local based and more experienced. We are working on building team spirit and I am confident that we will do well,” said Migné.

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