Thika United left back Dennis Odhiambo has been ruled out of this Saturday's opening 2014 World Cup qualifiers pitting hosts Kenya and Malawi with a an injury he sustained in training this week.
The absence of Odhiambo, who has been a regular in that position since he was first called up into the national soccer team, Harambee Stars, has not caused much upheavals in the Kenyan squad. Coach Francis Kimanzi said there is already a replacement within the 23-man squad for Odhiambo. "It is unfortunate Odhiambo suffered a muscle injury, whose extent is yet to be determined but by the look of things, he will not be available on Saturday and possibly against Namibia," the coach said.
Another player, who is causing concern for Kimanzi is the AFC Leopards goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, who missed out of yesterday's training with a bout of Malaria. However, the coach said he hopes Matasi will get well in time for the big match. "Matasi fell ill but he is undergoing treatment and we hope he will be fit and well come Saturday because the latest Fifa regulations require us to have three goalkeepers in the 23-man squad during the qualifiers," he stated.
The Stars coach was also pleased with the return of striker and country's all time leading scorer as well as the team captain, Dennis Oliech. "Every coach would like to work with the best players available and that is the case with us. Oliech is one of our best players and his availability will be a big boost for us," he said, refusing to delve into the issues that had seen the 27-year-old temporarily call time on his international career.
Kimanzi was confident that his players are cut out to deliver the three points they need to kick-start their road to uncharted territory that is the World Cup finals. "The players are motivated and I urge the fans to come out in large numbers and support the team. We promise to give them the good football they have come to expect from us here at home," he finished. Stars will shift their training to Kasarani today and tomorrow to have a feel of the ground they have enjoyed so much success in the past but are yet to play any competitive fixture in since it was renovated.
Goalkeeper: Boniface Oluoch (Tusker), Duncan Ochieng (Sofapaka), Patrick Matasi (Leopards).
Defenders: Pascal Ochieng (Rangers), James Situma (Sofapaka), Mulinge Munandi (Ulinzi) Joakins Atudo, Joseph Shikokoti, Brian Mandela (Tusker).
Midfielders: Kevin Cohieng (Gor) Collins Okoth, Humprhey Mieno (Sofapaka), Clifton Miheso (Thika), Dennis Nzomo, Jamal Mohammed (Mathare), Paul Mungai (KCB), Kevin Kimani (unattached), Titus Mulama (Etoi Lupopo, DRC),Victor Mugubi (Celtics, Scotland), Patrick Osiako (Romania).
Strikers: Dennis Oliech (Auxerre, France), Kepha Aswani (Thika Utd), Patrick Oboya (Slovakia), Paul Were (Tusker).