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BRING ON ZAMBIA

Kimanzi wants Stars to rise to occasion in absence of big names

Kenya and Zambia will be locking horns for the 38th time in history

In Summary

•Kimanzi will miss the services of Skipper Victor Wanyama,Michael Olunga,Ayub Timbe,Joseph Okumu and Arnold Origi 

•Kimanzi believes their replacements will produce remarkable performances which will enable them to compete for places in the November qualifier double against Comoros.


Francis Kahata (L) challenges Cliff Nyakeya during a training session at Nyayo Stadium yesterday
Francis Kahata (L) challenges Cliff Nyakeya during a training session at Nyayo Stadium yesterday
Image: ERICK BARASA

Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi is hoping the players called up to replace the quintet of their unavailable counterparts will live up to expectations when they face Zambia today and hand him a selection headache for the remaining Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Kimanzi will miss the services of skipper Victor Wanyama, Michael Olunga, Ayub Timbe, Joseph Okumu and Arnold Origi when he leads his troops against  Chipolopolo at the Nyayo Stadium today in a friendly match which will be played behind closed doors.

The five foreign-based senior players were initially summoned for the match but were exempted due to harsh Covid-19 restrictions they would face upon return to their clubs.

 

Kimanzi believes their replacements will produce remarkable performances which will enable them to compete for places during the November qualifier double against Comoros.

"We hope the new players will punch above their weights and convince us ahead of qualifiers. It is important when the technical bench has options in every department and the match is an avenue for some of the players to showcase  their talents," he said shortly after yesterday's training.

The former Mathare United tactician said he was impressed with the fitness levels of his charges despite training for a paltry four days.

Meanwhile Zambia-based custodian Ian Otieno says the team will not be cowed by the former champions tag and the Fifa rankings of the opponent.

Otieno, who plies his trade with Zesco United, will battle for the starting roles with Ulinzi Stars' Timothy Otieno and believes they will upset the visitors despite lack of fans.

"We have trained well for the few days  and we are ready for the match. We are not afraid of their status despite having won the Afcon before. There is a positive feeling in camp which I hope we will deliver for our fans," said the former AFC Leopards keeper.

Kenya and Zambia will be locking horns for the 38th time in history, albeit behind closed doors given that Covid-19 containment measures whipped up by government remain effective.

Previously, Kenya have come out of the battlefield with a bloodied face, having won only six times and picked up seven draws out of the 38 encounters including the World Cup qualifiers, Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup and African Cup of Nations among others. 

It was Zambia who began the protracted duels on a sound footing, when they registered a resounding 3-2 win over Kenya during their maiden encounter in the Independence Tournament in Lusaka way back in 1964.