Zambian-based players Jesse Were and David ‘Calabar’ Owino are doubtful for tomorrow’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana at Kasarani.
Football Kenya Federation yesterday said that the two picked injuries in training and were scheduled to undergo scans to determine the extent of their injuries.
The absence of the two will be a blow to the team that has already been depleted with the absence of four key players, including team captain Victor Wanyama and Paul Were, while Ayub Timbe and Brian Mandela are suspended.
Meanwhile, former Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno believes the team will pick a positive result against Ghana in tomorrow’s qualifier from 4pm.
Otieno, who captained Harambee Stars when Kenya last played in the finals in 2002, has urged fans to come out in large numbers and support the home team.
“We have a good team that has professional footballers and they have what it takes to beat Ghana. What they need is support from fans and in this regard, I urge everyone to rally behind them for us to get a good result,” he said.
Otieno added that the current generation of players should not let the opportunity to qualify for next year’s Afcon in Cameroon slip through their fingers.
“From when we played in the Nations Cup finals in 2004, it has been near misses since then but this generation can do it again. They have the exposure and quality to repeat that feat.”
Otieno also urged the players not to be distracted by the absence of Wanyama, who is injured, insisting that the team is capable of rising to the occasion.
At the same time, former Harambee Stars forward James Omondi has also tipped the team to defeat Ghana.Omondi also featured for the national team in the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations.
The former Thika United forward said playing at home and having a new coach should be enough motivation to propel Harambee Stars to a famous win over the fancied Ghana side.
“On paper, it is not an easy match but we have two things we can look back to; a home ground advantage and the new man at the helm. The support of the fans cannot be underrated and it will play a big role,” said Omondi.
“Secondly, majority of the players will be keen to impress the new coach and so will be at their best.”
Omondi said victory tomorrow will definitely put the team back on track in their ambition of playing in next year’s finals.“Harambee Stars were unlucky to lose away to Sierra Leone but now have a chance to make up for it and get back on track. A win over Ghana will be a big boost. After that, they must beat Ethiopia home and away and also win against Sierra Leone at home before completing the qualifiers with a draw against Ghana away.”
Omondi added that he is concerned about the poor form of Zesco United forward Jesse Were when playing for the national team and urged the technical bench to find a way of getting the best out of him.
“At club level, he is very lethal and scores almost at will. It is of great concern therefore, that we are not seeing the same form when he plays for the national team,” said Omondi.
“They need to know how to play to his strength at this level.”