• Harambee Stars skipper Michael Olunga says he is equal to the new challenge
• Stars technical bench settled on the Kashiwa Reysol striker for the armband following Victor Wanyama’s unavailability and the former Girona hitman says he is ready to shoulder both the scoring and will be leadership roles.
Stand-in Harambee Stars skipper Michael Olunga insists that he is equal the task in his new role ahead of their international friendly match against Uganda Cranes.
Stars technical bench settled on the Kashiwa Reysol striker for the armband following Victor Wanyama’s unavailability and the former Girona hitman says he is ready to shoulder both the scoring and leadership roles.
The match, which is set for tomorrow at the MoiInternational Sports Centre (MISC), Kasarani will see coach Francis Kimanzi mark his third stint with the team after playing a similar role in 2008 and 2011.
Kimanzi took over the reins last month after his predecessor Sebastien Migne was shown the door for dismal performance at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Migne, who upon cutting ties with Football Kenya Federation, left the country returned in the course of the week and hinted of a lengthy stay in the country as he seeks to land another coaching job elsewhere.
Ahead of tomorrow's match, Olunga who is currently enjoying a form of his life in Japan, anticipates a tough match considering Uganda’s form in the past edition of the Afcon in Egypt and the desire by either side to win the bragging rights. The last meeting between the two ended in a 1-1 draw in March 2017.
Tomorrow's match is deemed as part of the 2021 Afcon qualifiers preparations where Kenya are placed in Pool G alongside Egypt, Comoros and Togo.
“The armband comes with a lot of expectations and responsibilities and I will try to lead by example on the pitch. It is also our responsibility as players to deliver on the pitch for we have trained and gelled well throughout the week. We expect a tough match as Uganda reached the Afcon’s round of 16 and it’s like a derby where bragging rights are at stake. We are at home and we have to play well,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ugandan head coach Abdallah Mubiru who led his troops in checking in yesterday heaped praise on Olunga and he similarly, anticipates a tough match. Just like Kimanzi, Mubiru will be overseeing his first match after Sebastian Desabre parted ways with Cranes after Afcon. Desabre has since joined Pyramids who ply their trade in the Egyptian league.
“Based on Stars performance recently, I expect a tough match which will reflect on the progress we are making as a region. Olunga is a good striker and the team is comprised of good players whom we respect but we do not fear them.”