19 April 2017

Kenya: Okumbi Calls for Better Preparation Ahead of CHAN

Photo: Chris Omollo/The Nation
Harambee Stars midfielder Daniel Mwaura (centre) dribbles the ball during their international friendly match against Malawi at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 18, 2017.

Nairobi — Harambee Stars First Coach Stanley Okumbi has called on better cooperation between the Football Kenya Federation and the Kenyan Premier League as Kenya starts its preparations for next year's African Nations Championship (CHAN).

In the goalless draw against Malawi in a friendly match on Tuesday, Okumbi fielded an under-strength side with Gor Mahia having pulled their players out of the team while most of the other regular starters had to play on low batteries as they turned out for their clubs less than 48 hours earlier.

"We had planned for a win but to be honest it was tough for our players because we had not trained together. Some of them like AFC Leopards players arrived on Monday evening while Mathare and Posta players played on the same day," Okumbi lamented after the stalemate.

He added; "I totally understand Gor's decision to pull out their players because they had a game but moving forward, we need to plan well. The federation and KPL should work together to show support for us," the tactician noted.

KPL is understood to have turned down a request by the federation to shelve some matches over the past weekend to allow the national team train and prepare for the match.

The league managers who have had frosty relations with the federation hinged on the fact that the friendly was out of the FIFA calendar hence were under no obligation to stop the league.

FKF have said they have plans of playing at least one friendly match each month as the team prepares for the biennial tournament designed for home based players which will be staged on home soil in January.

Okumbi believes with good preparation and ample training time, the side will be well prepared for the tourney and he remains confident he will be able to put out a strong side in due time.

"We need to get all of our good players together for future friendlies. I believe the ones who played against Malawi did well but we need to give them more opportunities to build up even as we look to have a large pool of players for the national team," Okumbi noted.

"If we get all our good players together in training in good time and prepare well, I believe we will be ready for CHAN," the tactician added.

His sentiments were shared by skipper Jockins Atudo who believes the team needs more matches together to be able to arm themselves for a showdown against the continent's best next year.

"I believe the players who were given an opportunity were good. We just need to have them play more matches to build confidence. But they should know the national team level is different from the Premier League," the tough tackling defender noted.

Meanwhile, Okumbi has picked up attack as an area he needs to work on as the team continues its preparation.

In the 13 matches he has been in charge, the former Mathare United coach has picked six draws and it is of concern to him that the team is not scoring as much as it is creating.

"We really need to work on that but I think it should start straight from club level. If you look at the league, most matches end in draws or small winning score-lines. If we can get the players to start firing straight from the league, we will have solved the problem," the tactician offered.

A lover of sports who seeks to tell the African story in an African way. Top ten finalist of the Abu Dhabi Sports Media Pearl Awards. Be it on the pitch, court, track, pool or course, the story will be told. On twitter @KakaTimm

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