By: ISAAC SWILA
Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson on Tuesday said he is keen on giving upcoming players a chance as he unveiled a provisional 34-man squad for the upcoming World Cup preliminary qualifier against Cape Verde.
It is from this squad that the team which will represent the country in this year’s edition of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup will also be picked from.
Stars host the Atlantic Ocean Islanders in Nairobi in the first instalment of the two-legged tie on November 13 before facing them in the corresponding fixture on November 17 in Praia.
The aggregate winner will then join the group stages to fight it out for a ticket to the 2018 World Cup finals to be hosted by Russia.
After the two-legged clash, Williamson will shift focus to the Challenge Cup that kicks off on November 21 in Ethiopia with the objective of retaining the trophy. Stars beat Sudan’s Falcons 2-0 on December 12, 2013 to claim the honours with Allan Wanga scoring both goals.
In his squad for the two assignments, the Scot has shocked many by handing call ups to little known Calvince Omanga (Palos FC), Mark Bikokwa Baraza (Nzoia United), Ken Maritim (Ligi Ndogo) and Nicholas Kipkirui (Zoo Kericho).
Also in the squad are Peter Nzuki (Nakumatt) and Chrispinus Onyango (KCB).
Arnold Origi, who missed both legs of the Mauritius clash, is also back in the team alongside Christian Bwamy, who plies his trade in Norway with FK Follo.
The six young strikers will battle it out for the strikers’ slots in the team alongside Meshack Karani (Chemelil Sugar), Michael Olunga (Gor) and Wanga (Azam, Tanzania).
Of the above, only Wanga has considerable experience at the top level but has suffered a dip in form of late allowing Gor’s Olunga to make a strong claim for the position with his eye-catching performances in what has arguably been his best season so far.
Williamson at the same time warned against high expectations saying that he has called up the young to monitor them as he gears for the fixtures. The squad is expected to report to camp Thursday.
“Our Fifa ranking is quite low but we have to work hard. Hopefully, we can win at home (against Cape Verde) to carry a cushion to the second leg. We have to discover players and have good strikers who will score goals at a higher level,” he said.
Goalkeepers: Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Arnold Origi (Lillestrome, Norway) Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers) and David Okello (Sofapaka)
Defenders: Harun Shakava, Musa Mohamed (Gor Mahia), Edwin Wafula (AFC Leopards) Brian Birgen, Omar Mbongi Ulinzi Stars), Abdultiff Omar (Bandari FC), David Ochieng’ (Unattached), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United, South Africa), Dennis Odhiambo (Thika United), David Owino (Zesco United, Zambia).
Midfielders: Kevin Kimani (Tusker FC), John Ndirangu (Nakuru AllStars), John Nairuka, Kevin Amwayi (both Ulinzi Stars), Ayub Timbe (Lierse SK, Belgium) Bernard Mang’oli (AFC Leopards) Victor Wanyama (Southampton, England), Anthony Akumu (Al Khartoum, Sudan), Johanna Omollo (Royal Antwerp, Belgium), Eric Johanna (Mathare United), Christian Bwamy (Follo FK, Norway), Collins Okoth (Gor Mahia), Humphrey Mieno (Tusker).
Strikers: Calvince Omanga (Palos FC), Peter Nzuki (Nakumatt FC), Mark Bikokwa Baraza (Nzoia United), Chrispinus Onyango (KCB), Meshack Karani (Chemelil Sugar), Michael Olunga (Gor Mahia), Allan Wanga (Azam FC, Tanzania), Ken Maritim ( Ligi Ndogo) and Nicholas Kipkirui ( Zoo Kericho).