• Harambee Stars have been cautioned of the danger posed by Mohammed Salah’s replacement when the two sides clash today in Alexandria in the opening 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match
•Stars are placed in pool G of the qualifiers and are set to host Togo on Monday at the Moi Stadium, Kasarani in the second qualifier match.
Harambee Stars have been cautioned of the danger posed by Mohammed Salah’s replacement when the two sides clash today in Alexandria in the opening match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Salah was ruled out of the contest against Stars and the subsequent one against Comoros after picking an ankle injury during their 3-1 win over defending champions Manchester City last weekend in English Premier League match.
“Medical tests have confirmed Salah is not ready for Kenya and Comoros," read a statement on Egypt’s Football Association 's official Twitter page. Stars, who are eyeing to book a place in the finals set for Cameroon, were deemed to be advantaged by Salah’s predicament but former assistant coach Frank Ouna reckons that his replacement will be out to prove a point.
Stars are placed in pool G of the qualifiers and are set to host Togo on Monday at the Moi Stadium, Kasarani in the second qualifier match. Ahead of the match, Ouna has warned Stars of celebrating Salah's unavailability at the expense of defying odds and forcing for a positive result.
“Salah’s replacement is equally dangerous and should not be underrated. He knows what the fans expect from him. This leaves him with no option other than to deliver. Besides, he will be ambitious enough to cement a place in the starting team. It's going to be a tough match but I believe our technical bench has analysed their opponents' style of play and have identified their weaknesses,” he added.
Kimanzi, who is likely to miss the services of John Avire, is expected to embrace a defensive approach, owing to their opponents' record at home. Avire, who is attached to FC Tanta after controversially forcing his way out of Sofapaka, had not reported to camp by yesterday despite being an approximated two-hour drive from Alexandria.
“Avire is yet to report as Tanta are not willing to release him,” said FKF's Ken Okaka who serves in the communication department.
Having lost the qualifiers' curtain-raiser to Mozambique, Kimanzi will be keen to redeem himself as well as follow the footsteps of his predecessor Sebastien Migne who guided Kenya to end their 15-year-old qualification jinx.
The former Mathare United tactician is likely to summon Patrick Matasi to start between the sticks, thanks to his experience at the continental stage. However, Ulinzi Stars shot-stopper Timothy Odhiambo is also touted as a candidate for the starting roles courtesy of his five clean-sheets in seven league matches.
Sharks utility man Samuel Olwande and Erick Ouma will slot in as the full-backs with the quartet of Joash Onyango, Joseph Okumu, Johnstone Omurwa and Harun Shakava eyeing to start at the heart of the defence.
Kimanzi will have a rich variety to select his midfield pairing where skipper Victor Wanyama, Zesco United's Anthony Akumu, Lawrence Juma and Johanna Omollo will be muscling to shield the defence.
Kenneth Muguna, Erick Johanna, Cliff Nyakeya and Whyvonne Isuza will be fighting to supply ammunition to the strikers who include Michael Olunga, John Makwatta and Jesse Were.
Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi (St. George SC, Ethiopia), Timothy Odhiambo (Ulinzi Stars, Kenya), Ian Otieno (Red Arrows, Zambia); Defenders: Johnstone Omurwa (Wazito), Harun Shakava (Nkana, Zambia), Joash Onyango (Gor Mahia), Hillary Wandera (Tusker), Erick Ouma (Vasalunds IF, Sweden), Joseph Okumu (IF Elfsborg, Sweden), Samuel Olwande (Sharks); Midfielders: Teddy Akumu (Zesco United, Zambia), Johanna Omollo (Cercle Brugge, Belgium), Kenneth Muguna (Gor), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe, China), Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspurs, England), Boniface Muchiri (Tusker, Kenya), Lawrence Juma (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Cliff Nyakeya (FC Masr, Egypt), Erick Johanna Omondi (IF Brommapojkarma, Sweden), Whyvone Isuza (AFC Leopards); Forwards: Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol, Japan), Jesse Were (Zesco United, Zambia), John Mark Makwatta (AFC Leopards)