No sacred cows – Kimanzi declares as he prepares to name Stars squad

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020 00:52 | By
Francis Kimanzi (left) gives instructions to Johanna Omollo at a past national team training session. Omollo has been in sparkling form for Belgian League side Cercle Brudge. PHOTO/Rodgers Ndegwa

With Harambee Stars’ quest for 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and 2022 World Cup qualifiers that had been postponed owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic set to resume this November, foreign based players are doing their best to impress coach Francis Kimanzi for selection ahead of the upcoming international assignments.

Coach Kimanzi recently made it clear to all that players plying their trade in foreign leagues will not enjoy preferential treatment during his national team selection and said no one had a permanent place in the team as he plans to pick the players going by their current form.

“Take for instance, when Lawrence Juma (Gor Mahia midfielder) was in top form, we picked him and slotted him into the starting team ahead of other foreign players and he proved his mettle. Playing abroad is secondary to the player’s current form when it comes to selection,” coach Kimanzi told FKF website.

With this in mind, coupled with the fact that football activities are yet to resume in the country, foreign players currently playing in their various leagues abroad stand better chances ahead of the local players due to match fitness and form to represent the country in the upcoming match day three and four of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon qualifiers, where Harambee Stars are scheduled to play Comoros, home and away between November 9, and November 17, 2020.

On Tuesday evening, highly rated Kenya international shot stopper Arnold Origi who is keen to come out of international retirement, was outstanding in between the posts, keeping a clean sheet to guide his Finish top league side HIFK in beating hosts Honka Espoo 1-0 and in the process bounced back to winning ways, following two consecutive away defeats to TPS Turku and Inter Turku.

Origi’s performance in the match coupled by the fact that he has cemented his place at HIFK as the first choice goalkeeper is set to exite Kimanzi more as the tactician is said to have talked him out of international retirement, inviting him to join Stars in preparations ahead of the crucial encounter against Comoros.

The former Mathare United and Tusker goalkeeper, had 33 caps before he decided to retire from the national team after more than a decade of service but with recent dismal performance from other keepers Patrick Matasi (St. Georges- Ethiopia), Ian Otieno (Zesco United- Zambia), Origi could be set to grace the national team colours again.

Kimanzi expects a tough encounter against group leaders Comoros whose majority of it’s players ply their trade in France.

The Islanders are a hard nut to crack, having proved their mettle against heavyweights in previous matches where they beat Togo and shared spoils with Egypt to be able to lead the group on four points, while Harambee Stars are lurking in second after two draws, an identical 1-1 results against Egypt in Cairo and Togo in Nairobi.

As Origi nears his return to the national team, Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama continued to work hard for his defensive role in the national team as well as his club, as he stood tall at the heart of the midfield to guide his Montreal Impact side to stun host and league leaders Toronto FC 1-0 in a Canadian classic encounter played on Wednesday morning in the USA Major League Soccer match. Montreal had not won in their previous two league matches.

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