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Coach Engin Firat names Harambee Stars provisional squad for 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Monday, May 20th, 2024 14:35 | By
Harambee Stars in a training session with head coach Engin Firat.
Harambee Stars in a training session with head coach Engin Firat. PHOTO/(@Harambee__Stars)/X

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has named his provisional squad for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Burundi and Ivory Coast.

In a statement on Monday, May 20, 2024, the Turkish gaffer included the Kenya Police FC goalkeeper Patrick Matasi in the list of four goalies set to report in the camp for the upcoming matches.

Matasi has recently recorded a poor run of games with his blunders gifting his two former employees key wins in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKFPL).

On Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at the Dandora Stadium, Matasi mishandled a cross from AFC Leopards player Victor Omune which ended up in the back of the net. The goal helped Ingwe to end Police FC unbeaten run across all competitions this year.

Firat promises changes to Harambee Stars’ starting XI against Seychelles tonight
Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat addressing the press. PHOTO/Harambee Stars(@Harambee__Stars)/X

On Saturday, May 18, 2024, Matasi made headlines after he misjudged a foul delivered into the box which allowed Charles Momanyi to score the winning goal for Tusker FC. Matasi's blunder helped Robert Matano's charges to complete a double over Salim Babu’s men.

Despite a poor run of games, Firat has retained Matasi in his squad which has retained most players who triumphed at the four-nation tournament in Malawi.

Free-scoring striker Michael Olunga has not been included in the Harambee Stars provisional squad unveiled by the Turkish gaffer. It is not yet clear why he has been omitted.

Harambee Stars and Al Duhail striker Michael Olunga. PHOTO/Qatar Stars League
Harambee Stars and Al Duhail striker Michael Olunga. PHOTO/Qatar Stars League

New Faces

Besides maintaining familiar faces, Firat has also included new faces in the provisional squad unveiled. Kenya Police defender Brian Okoth, who has stood out in the local league, is among the new players joining the Harambee Stars camp.

Firat has also summoned Bruce Kamau, who features for Perth Glory in Australia and Tobias Knost, who plies his trade in Germany with SV Verl. Adam Wilson, who plays for Bradford City in England, has also earned a maiden national team call-up.

Gor Mahia's midfield maestro who recently buried the hatchet with Engin Firat has also been included in the Harambee Stars squad. Other returnees to the national team are Duke Abuya and Elvis Rupia after missing the team’s last assignments at the four-nation tournament in Malawi.

Preparations and dates for the matches

The players are expected to start reporting to the camp on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Nairobi. The coach is then expected to name his final squad before departing for Malawi on June 2, 2024, where Harambee Stars will host the two World Cup qualifying matches.

Harambee Stars will face Burundi on June 7, 2024, before facing the reigning Africa Cup of Nations winners, Ivory Coast, on June 11, 2024.

Full provisional squad

Goalkeepers

Patrick Matasi (Kenya Police), Byrne Odhiambo (Bandari), Boniphas Munyasa (Muranga Seal), Ian Otieno (Zesco, Zambia)

Defenders

Johnstone Omurwa (Estrela, Portugal), Alphonse Omija (Dhofar-Oman), Amos Nondi (Ararat, Armenia), Brian Okoth (Kenya Police), Abud Omar (Kenya Police), Tobias Knost (SV Verl, Germany)

Midfielders

John Ochieng (Zanaco, Zambia), Eric Johanna (UTA, Romania), Adam Wilson (Bradford City, England), Anthony Akumu (Unattached), Kenneth Muguna (Kenya Police), Kaycie Odhiambo (AFC Leopards), Chrispine Erambo (Tusker), Rooney Onyango (Gor Mahia), Ayub Timbe (Sabail, Azeberijan), Duke Abuya (IHEFU, Tanzania), Bruce Kamau (Perth Glory, Australia)

Forwards

John Avire (El Sekka El Hadid SC, Egypt), Austine Odhiambo (Gor Mahia), Benson Omala (Gor Mahia), Elvis Rupia (IHEFU, Tanzania).

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