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Coach Kimanzi eyes morale-boosting win against Mozambique

By Lynette Matheka
Friday, October 11th, 2019
Harambee Stars midfielder Francis Kahata during a past international match. Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi will lead his charges against Mozambique’s Os Mambas in an international friendly match scheduled for Sunday at Kasarani Stadium, as part of preparations for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.

Kenya is in Group G of the qualifiers alongside Egypt, Togo and Comoros. Stars will play Egypt on November 11 before meeting Togo on November 19. The other matches are scheduled between August and November 2020.

In the absence of Patrick Matasi, who had emerged as the first-choice goalkeeper in the reign of Kimanzi’s predecessor Sebastian Migne, and his counterpart Jeff Oyemba, who did not get a call-up for this assignment, the tactician will rely on the safe hands of Young Africans (Yanga) Farouk Shikalo, Red Arrow’s Ian Otieno and Timothy Odhiambo of Ulinzi Stars.

Also missing in Kimanzi’s squad is winger Ayub Timbe after his club, Beijing Renhe, requested he stays behind for their league assignment against Chongqing Lifan on the same day of the friendly.

The versatility of Eric Johanna, who can play at the centre or right of midfield, will be missed but the tactician will have a team captain and Tottenham Hotspurs’ Victor Wanyama in defensive midfield up for selection.

Wanyama missed Stars’ friendly against Uganda last month and has seen limited playtime at his club since the 2019/20 English Premier League season began.

Zesco United’s Jesse Were, who missed the Uganda match after suffering a hamstring injury in training ahead of the match and was not part of Migne’s squad to the 2019 Afcon, will get a chance to replicate his club form in Zambia at the national team level. Also making a return is Nkana FC’s Harun Shakava.

“We have had good sessions in training especially because we had a big number of players we wanted to see and prepare them for the match.

We made a decision to call players, more so those we don’t see in action every day, and give them an opportunity so that we can clear any doubts,” said Kimanzi.

This will be the coach’s second match in charge of Stars after leading the side to a one-all draw against Uganda. In the last four meetings between the two sides, Kenya has won twice and lost once.

The two sides last met in September 2017 in a friendly played in Maputo, the match ending in a one-all draw.

Before that, Mozambique had lost 1-0 to Stars in November 2016 at Kasarani Stadium in another friendly match. Stars’ goals were scored by Johanna in the two matches.

Prior to the friendly match in 2016, they met twice in a two-leg World Cup qualifier in 2009, Kenya winning the first 2-1 in Nairobi before losing the return tie 1-0 in Maputo to bow out on away goals rule.

Mozambique arrives in the country tonight and are expected to hold their official training session at 4pm tomorrow.

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