Harambee Stars will have to do without skipper Victor Wanyama after the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder was ruled out of this weekend’s 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana.
Stars’ coach, Sebastian Migne, said he had decided to exclude the experienced midfielder from the team to give him time to get back to his best after only recovering from injury recently.
“Wanyama is an important player for the team but he will not be available for the game against Ghana because he is just coming back from injury,” Migne said at the team’s training base at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies. “It’s disappointing but that is the situation and we will have to cope with it.”
Of the 38 players Migne had called up to the preliminary squad, only 24 had turned up by yesterday morning, with Wanyama’s elder brother McDonald Mariga among the absentees.
“Anyone who will not have joined us by this evening (Wednesday) will not be in the squad regardless of who he is. We have to be professional in our approach if we are to achieve our objectives,” said the Frenchman.
In Wanyama’s absence Migne revealed that Zesco United stalwart, David Owino, will take the armband for the clash with Black Stars despite suffering a niggle in yesterday’s training.
“He is an important player for the team and is respected by all his colleagues so he will lead out the team for Saturday’s game,” disclosed Migne, who added that only Owino and Tusker goalkeeper Patrick Matasi are assured of starting berths in the crucial encounter.
Gor Mahia shot-stopper Boniface Oluoch, who has donned the number one jersey since the retirement of Arnold Origi from international duty, has been absent from the team’s camp since it was convened on Sunday evening.
Stars striker Michael Olunga, now based in Japan — where he turns out for J-League side Kashiwa Reysol — was in training despite his team playing yesterday afternoon.
Olunga said mental fortitude was important if Stars are to bring their qualification back on track.
“Ghana are obviously a tough side but it is a good time to meet them because they are in transition and we will have to be mentally focused to get the result we need. They have young players who are hungry and so we must not underestimate them at all,” said Olunga, the scorer of the consolation goal in Stars’ loss to Sierra Leone in the first match.
Ghana, who lead the group after beating Ethiopia in the fist match, are due in the country today.