Harambee Stars’ coach Bobby beefs up squad

By: DAVID KWALIMWA

Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson has drafted Jacob Keli and Brian Mandela to his squad for tomorrow’s return leg of the 2018 World Cup qualifier match against Cape Verde.

Kenya hold a slim 1-0 lead garnered in Nairobi on Friday, heading into the return leg clash set for the Estadio Nacional in Praia, Cape Verde.

The aggregate winner of the match will join 19 other teams in the final qualification phase of this competition, from where the five teams that will represent Africa at the 2018 Fifa World Cup will be selected.

Keli who turns out for Zambia’s top side Nkana FC, comes in as replacement for Allan Wanga who has asked to be excluded from the trip owing to personal commitments.

The former AFC Leopards forward will challenge Kevin Kimani for the starting berth on the right hand side of the team’s attack, in the continued absence of the injured Ayub Timbe.

“Our mission is to qualify for the next round of this competition in whatever way. Cape Verde is a quality side and I am hoping to get an opportunity to assist the team achieve this target,” Keli told NationSport.

Mandela who plies his trade at Maritzburg United in South Africa’s top flight is expected to replace Gor Mahia’s Harun Shakava in central defence. Kenyan Premier League top marksman Jesse Were is a curious absentee from the 20 man travelling party.

HOPING FOR CHANCE

Gor Mahia midfield duo of Ali Abondo and Collins Okoth, plus Chemelil’s Stephen Wakhanya and Mathare United playmaker Eric Johanna are some of the players who will be hoping for a chance against the Blue Sharks at the Estadio Nacional in Cape Verde.

The left wing partnership of Clifton Miheso and Omar Mbongi is expected to retain their places after an impressive outing in the first leg match.

Williamson has meanwhile hinted he could deploy a defensive formation in this second round clash.

“We have something to defend and it is important not to make mistakes there. We are also looking to score a goal or two a situation that will help us a great deal,” Williamson told Nation Sport.

Meanwhile, Stars will land in Praia less than 24 hours to the match, according to a communique released last evening by Football Kenya Federation.

FKF CEO Micheal Esakwa confirmed the team will leave Wilson airport for Praia via Niamey (Niger) in an eight-hour journey aboard a charted plane provided by the Government.

He added that the players will be paid all the outstanding allowances before departure.

“This is the safest route, considering the timings and security situation in Paris,” Esakwa clarified.

This in essence implies that Stars will jet into enemy territory barely 24 hours before kick-off.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION