The tough work to prepare the national team Harambee Stars for the upcoming AFCON finals in Egypt is already underway. Top of the list is who will make it into the final 23-man squad for the tournament in three months’ time with head coach Sebastien Migne revealing that he has already singled out 32 players who he hopes to look at between now and then, before naming his final squad.
Stars reported to camp on Monday 18 March for their final AFCON qualifier away to Ghana this coming weekend and held their first training session on Tuesday with an almost full squad with only those suspended or injured being absent.
Those in camp were the players who have been present in the previous qualifiers with the exception of Denmark based Chris Mbamba, who has earned his first call up to the squad, Kariobangi Sharks duo of keeper John Oyemba and midfielder Duke Abuya with Libya based Masud Juma making a return to the squad since the match day one qualifier against Sierra Leone in June 2017.
The additions leave Migne spoilt for choice and he revealed that he is also keeping a close eye on several players in the U23 squad who could possibly find themselves traveling to Egypt.
“It’s three months between now and when we go to Egypt and a lot can happen in three months,” the Frenchman told journalists after Tuesday’s open session. “A player can get injured or he may lack fitness. We are going to Ghana without several of our senior players and this means that anything can happen. Nothing is cast in stone.
“Having said that, I can reveal that I have about 32 players in my head who I have put in the frame for AFCON. It is a big number and I am hoping to use this international break for both the senior team and the U23 to assess the players.
“After that I will reduce the squad to 26 before we hit our training camp in France and then from there I will name my final 23 man squad,” he said.
Ovella Ochieng, Joseph Okumu as well as keeper Brian Bwire, currently with the U23 squad in Sudan for and AFCON U23 qualifier, have all been involved in some capacity with the senior team during this qualification process.
Aside from Mbamba, the former Congo coach had also given a first time call-up to David Sessay, a utility defender playing with English side Crawley Town. But the player declined the call so as to focus with his club which is in danger of suffering relegation in England’s fourth division.
Below is the full list of players to have reported to camp on Tuesday;
Patrick Matasi (St Georges, Ethiopia), Farouk Shikalo (Bandari), John Oyemba (Kariobangi Sharks)
Erick Ouma (Vasalund, Sweden), Musa Mohammed (Nkana FC, Zambia), David Owino (Zesco, Zambia), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg, South Africa), Philemon Otieno (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Benard Ochieng (Vihiga United, Kenya), Joash Onyango (Gor Mahia, Kenya)
Erick Johanna (IF Brommapojkarna, Sweden), Johanna Omollo (Cercle Brugge, Belgium), Ismael Gonzales (UD Las Palmas B, Spain), Paul Were (Trikala, Greece), Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspurs, England), Francis Kahata (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Christopher Tangen Mbamba (Oskarshamns, Sweden), Dennis Odhiambo (Sofapaka, Kenya), Anthony Akumu (Zesco, Zambia)
Duke Abuya (Kariobangi Sharks, Kenya), Cliff Nyakeya (Mathare United, Kenya), Masud Juma (Al Nasr, Libya), Allan Wanga (Kakamega Homeboyz), Piston Mutamba (Sofapaka)