OKUMBI’S MESSAGE: Harambee Stars coach urges fans to support him, set for Guinea Bissau
FOOTBALL By Gilbert Wandera | March 16th 2016
When he was appointed Harambee Stars coach four weeks ago, there were doubts as to whether Stanley Okumbi would take the team to greater heights.
But Okumbi has asked fans to give him and his technical bench a chance as he embarks on his first assignment on March 23 with a match against Guinea Bissau in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The former Mathare United coach insisted he and his technical bench are up to the task as they have a combined wealth of experience.
“I have been a coach for a long time and so are the members of my technical bench. I believe we have the necessary experience to lead this great team to do well in the qualifiers,” he said.
Okumbi said he was not under any pressure as he prepares the team to take on their West African opponents considering the magnitude of the fixture.
This will be Okumbi’s biggest match since he started coaching and he believes he can deliver. Apart from Mathare United, the tactician has also handled National Super League side Kariobangi Sharks.
“There is no pressure at all on me despite it being a huge match. With proper preparations I believe we can collect maximum points against our opponents and with that deliver on the expectations of our fans.”
Kenya are third in Group ‘E’ but only on a better goal difference to Guinea Bissau and must win the two legged affair to revive their chances of an appearance at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon.
After the March 23 tie away in Guinea Bissau, Stars host their opponents four days later in Nairobi.
Both teams have picked just one point in two matches.
Zambia lead the group on four points while Congo Brazzaville are second also on four points but with an inferior goal aggregate.
Only group winners will qualify for the continental event. All the local based players reported to camp yesterday after the Kenyan Premier League postponed all matches to give the national team time to prepare for the March 23 encounter.
Okumbi’s first duty was to assess the fitness levels of his squad members an assignment ably carried out by fitness trainer Mike Igendia. The national team head coach was impressed with the results.
“Most of the players are fit. It is a pleasant surprise for me but then again it is not such a surprise when you consider that they have been active in the league,” he said.
All the foreign based players will link up with the team in Guinea Bissau as they are still on duty for their clubs.
Gor Mahia Caf Confederation Cup match with Merowe in doubt