Migne to continue with his bag of surprises as he sets out to name AFCON squad

When he was being appointed in May of 2018, Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne’s target was to guide the national team to the 2021 African Cup of Nations, a year down the line he is two years and one tournament ahead of schedule as he has led the team to the 2019 Nations Cup in Egypt and by so doing, has broken a 15 year wait for the country to grace the continental stage.

The qualification part is already done, the next task is naming the provisional squad that will hit camp ahead of the tournament that is slated to start in a month’s time. This will be done on Tuesday 14 May at the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Goal Project offices.

French national Sebastien Migne is the sixth coach in Harambee Stars’ history to qualify the team to the Nations Cup

Rampant speculation

Speculation on who will make the squad has been rampant and we here at Soka have compiled a list of players who will probably or most certainly be on the plane to Egypt.

A huge chunk of Migne’s squad will comprise of players who featured in the qualifiers, but like with his first competitive game as Stars head coach which was against Ghana in Nairobi in September of last year, where he surprised many by his squad selection, the Frenchman is also expected to spring up a few surprises with the Tuesday announcement.

Migne surprisingly named Philemon Otieno, Joash Onyango, Dennis Odhiambo, Ovella Ochieng and Ismail Gonzalez among his starters in that 1-0 win over Ghana at the MISC Kasarani that kick started the team’s path to qualification after the away loss to Sierra Leone on match day one of the qualifiers.

Vindicated

This was forced on him by injuries and suspensions to Captain Victor Wanyama, Brian Mandela, David Owino and Ayub Timbe. Even though Joash saw red in the game with an hour gone, his choices were vindicated as all four players impressed to secure the crucial win.

One of Migne’s surprise inclusions, Joash Onyango has been a standout performer whenever he has been called upon

He sprung up another surprise by calling up two unknowns in midfielder Christopher Mbamba and defender David Ssesay for the return leg fixture against Ghana in March of this year that wrapped-up the qualifiers. Mbamba honored the call-up and travelled with the team to Ghana but issues with his documentation denied him a chance to win his first cap while Ssesay declined the call-up as he wanted to focus with his club career in England.

The exclusion of Zambia based Jesse Were was also a surprise as was the inclusions of at the time unattached Masud Juma and Sofapaka’s Pistone Mutamba.

Timbe back

Therefore, Tuesday’s provisional squad will for sure not lack one or two surprise inclusions and will for the first time include China based winger Ayub Timbe who has not played under Migne as he was suspended for the Frenchman’s first three qualifiers after picking up a red card for dissent in the now annulled away tie to Sierra Leone on match day one.

A knee injury subsequently ruled him out for the rest of the qualifiers but he is now on his way to regain full fitness.

We now await to see what surprises the former Congo head coach will pull out of his bag.

Dennis Odhiambo (L) of Sofapaka started every single AFCON qualifier under Migne

Below is our provisional list of 26 players:

Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi (St. Georges, Ethiopia), Faruk Shikhalo (Bandari FC), John Oyemba (Kariobangi Sharks), James Saruni (Ulinzi Stars)

Defenders: Philemon Otieno (Gor Mahia), Musa Mohammed (Nkana FC-Zambia), Joash Onyango (Gor Mahia), Abud Omar (Sepsi Sfântu-Romania), David Owino (Zesco United-Zambia), Bernard Ochieng (Vihiga United), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United-South Africa), Erick Ouma (Vasalund IF-Sweden)

Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspurs-England), Anthony Akumu (Zesco United-Zambia), Eric Johanna (IF Bromma-Sweden), Ismael Gonzales (UD Las Palmas-Spain), Francis Kahata (Gor Mahia), Dennis Odhiambo (Sofapaka FC), Johanna Omollo (Cercle Brugge-Belgium), Christopher Mbamba (Oddevold – Sweden)

Forwards: Paul Were (AFC Leopards), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe-China), Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol-Japan), Allan Wanga (Kakamega Homeboyz), Enosh Ochieng (Ulinzi Stars-Kenya), Masud Juma (Al Nasr Benghazi – Libya)