Kenya/Zambia: Short-Handed Kenya Tackle Zambia At Nyayo

8 October 2020

Harambee Stars take on Zambia's Chipolopolo in an international friendly match on Friday at the Nyayo National Stadium from 4pm.

Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi expects a tough match but he is eager to see how his players respond as he continues preparations for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying two-leg showdown against Comoros in November.

"I know the many players in the squad will be eager to impress the technical bench so that they are included in the final squad that will play in the AFCON 2021 qualifiers and therefore they might be over-enthusiastic," he said.

"I expect a tough build-up match but my focus is on checking the ability of some of the fresh faces we have in the team and hopefully get four or five that I can use for the AFCON Qualifiers," he added.

Top stars out

Kenya will be without captain Victor Wanyama, Michael Olunga, Johanna Omolo, Joseph Okumu, Ayub Timbe and Arnold Origi who failed to make it to camp due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

However, Kimanzi says their absence is a blessing in disguise as it will now allow for the available players to step up and show their worth.

"It is a chance for the players we have to show what they can do and for me, as a coach, I will be very eager to see how they fill in the void. Even as we work on getting results in the upcoming matches it is very important to think about the future," he said.

Kimanzi also emphasised the importance of building a team for the future.

Some of the fresh faces in the team include highly-rated left-back Clarke Oduor who features for English Championship side Barnsley FC and attacking midfielder Mohamed Katana who plays for Isloch FC in Belarus.

"Oduor was very willing to join us and made it despite very harsh travel conditions. He has just held one training session but he is among the players that are the future of the national team and I will give him some minutes to show us what he's got in him. We also have Katana and I am happy to introduce such young players so that the transition is easy," the experienced tactician said.

Oduor said he was excited to finally train with Kenya's national team.

"The training session was very intense and even though I really don't know my teammates, I could tell they are very hard-working and eager to do well. I am very excited to be here and hope to work hard and become a regular for the national team in the near future."

Chipolopolo coach Milutin "Micho" Sredojevic says he is looking forward to a tough opposition from Harambee Stars. The Zambia contingent arrived in the country Thursday evening and held their first training session at the match venue Friday morning, hours before the match.

"I respect coach Francis Kimanzi and I know Harambee Stars now play attractive football since he took over and the team is solid. They got a point away against Egypt and that speaks volumes of the quality of the opposition where are going to face. They also drew against Togo in a game they were the better side and that says a lot," Micho told Nation Sport.

"I have coached in the Cecafa region for many years and I know most Kenyan players - they are very loyal and hardworking. Whenever I have played against Kenya they have always been a tough nut to crack and that is why we accepted the invite because we know we will face a top-class side that will test us to the limits," he added.

Kenya and Zambia are using this friendly match to prepare for Afcon qualifiers against Comoros and Botswana respectively in November.

The last time these two teams met at Nyayo National Stadium was in 2015 with the Chipolopolo winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Collins Mbesuma and Winston Kalengo.

No fans will be allowed in the stadium due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Kenya's probable Starting XI: Ian Otieno (GK), Baraka Badi, Joash Onyango, Brian Mandela, David Owino, Anthony Akumu, Lawrence Juma, Eric Johanna, Cliff Nyakeya, Timothy Otieno, Masud Juma

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