Harambee Stars will miss the services of the influential quartet of Victor Wanyama, Arnold Origi, Ayub Timbe and Michael Olunga when they face Zambia in the Africa Cup of Nations build-up match against Zambia on Friday.
The four were omitted yesterday when Football Kenya Federation released a final squad for the match set to be staged at the Moi Stadium, Kasarani behind closed doors. “The four will not be available for the match,” said FKF’S communications chief Ken Okaka.
The experienced players were part of the 34-man provisional squad released last week by coach Francis Kimanzi who will use the match to gauge his readiness for the November qualifier double against Comoros.
Origi, who plies his trade with Finland side HIFK Fotboll, was supposed to make his comeback to the team after five years in the cold. In the absence of the revered custodian, Kimanzi will pick the starter from the Zambian based Ian Otieno and national U-23 and Ulinzi Stars goalkeeper Timothy Odhiambo.
With Wanyama unavailable, all eyes will be on Kimanzi’s choice for the captaincy. Prior to his lengthy hiatus from the team, the former Maritzburg centre back Brian Mandela who made it to the team despite being unattached served as Wanyama’s deputy alongside Musa Mohammed.
Former Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango skippered the team during last year’s Cecafa Senior Challenge in Uganda. Having established himself as Stars preferred centre forward, the unavailability of the red-hot Olunga will leave Kimanzi with no options other than to try a new formation upfront.
Algerian-based Masud Juma is likely to fill in Olunga shoes with reigning Cecafa top scorer Oscar Wamalwa, AFC Leopards striker Elvis Rupia and Zambia-based Timothy Otieno offering options.
Meanwhile Kimanzi recalled Bandari’s wing-wizard Abdallah Hassan to replace Timbe Hassan was part of the Stars team which scooped bronze in the past Cecafa championship.
Yesterday, eleven local-based players reported to camp and were screened for Covid-19 in line with the protocols sanctioned by the Ministry of Sports. Foreign-based players were expected to start checking into camp last night.