Francis Kimanzi is set to begin his third stint as Harambee Stars’ head coach with a friendly against regional rivals Uganda set for the MISC Kasarani on Sunday 8 September and his plan for the game is not to kick off his reign, necessarily with a win against the old foe, but to give minutes to some of the less fancied/less known players he has called-up to understand how deep the country’s talent pool is.
Kimanzi’s provisional squad is largely comprised of local based players due to the unavailability of some of the senior and foreign based stars. Many of whom lack in experience at this level but have shown immense potential to warrant call-ups.
Players like Boniface Muchiri, Collins Agade, Hillary Wandera and Brian Otieno just to name a few are yet to earn a cap for the national team and under different circumstances would not have been considered for this tie and that is what Kimanzi is hoping to use to his advantage and see what other players can offer starting with the Uganda game.
“It’s important to see what we have as a country in terms of talent,” Kimanzi, who led Kenya to its best ever world ranking of 68 more than a decade ago, told journalists on Thursday morning.
“I want to see the players come Sunday. Most of them are young and have not been in the frame for the national team in the past and so I want to see what they can offer.”
Using an experimental side that a bit lacks on the experience side could harm Stars’ chances of sealing a win against the Uganda Cranes who for close to a decade, have been the region’s best team in terms of FIFA rankings.
This though is the least of the former Sofapaka, Tusker and Mathare United tactician’s worries as his plan is to build for the future and get options available for the team.
“I understand that it is an international match and a win is important. We will play for the win of course, Uganda will as well but for us and the most important thing is to see what we have at our disposal especially with the local based players who – let us be honest – would not have been considered for the team in the past,” he said.
Stars are to be without the services of striker Jesse Were who reported to camp with a hamstring injury which he got while playing for his club Zesco United in their season opener against Zanaco last weekend.
The Uganda friendly and several others that have been lined-up for Kenya in October will serve to prepare the team for the AFCON 2021 Qualifiers that will kick off in November.
Below is the full list of players that are in camp;
Patrick Matasi (St. George), John Oyemba (Kariobangi Sharks), Faruk Shikalo (Young Africans)
Johnstone Omurwa (Wazito), Evans Kibwage (KCB), Joash Onyango (Gor Mahia), Brian Otieno (Bandari), Hillary Wandera (Tusker), Erick Ouma (Vasalunds), Amai Atariza (Bandari), Samuel Olwande (Kariobangi Sharks)
Francis Kahata (Simba), Boniface Muchiri (Tusker), Kenneth Muguna (Gor Mahia), Duke Abuya (Kariobangi Sharks), Collins Agade (Bandari), Cliffton Miheso (Gor Mahia), Lawrence Juma (Gor Mahia), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe), Cliff Nyakeya (FC Masr), Erick Johanna Omondi (IF Brommapojkarma), Moses Mudavadi (Kakamega Homeboyz), Whyvone Isuza (AFC Leopards)
Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol), Jesse Were (Zesco United), Enosh Ochieng (Ulinzi Stars)