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Afcon qualifier: Foreign-based players start reporting to Stars camp

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | November 6th 2020 | 2 min read
Harambee Stars striker Cliff Nyakeya celebrates his goal against Zambia during a friendly match at the Nyayo National Stadium on October 9, 2020. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

Foreign-based players are expected to start joining Harambee Stars camp today as the national team intensifies preparation ahead of next week’s two-legged Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers clash against Comoros.

Stars will take on the Group G leaders on November 11 at Kasarani Stadium before flying out four days later to Moroni for the return leg.

Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee named 18 foreign-based players in his 40-man provisional squad as he began his fifth stint in the Stars’ dug-out after replacing Francis Kimanzi last month.

Ayub Timbe, who recently parted ways with Chinese club Beijing Renhe will be the first player to report to Kasarani residential training camp today followed by the Egypt-based duo of Cliff Nyakeya (Masr FC) and John Avire (Tanta FC) alongside UD Las Palmas’ midfielder Ismael Gonzalez tomorrow.

“I will be coming to Kenya over the weekend and head straight to camp. It will be a tough match against Comoros because they have a lot of confidence. Therefore, we must be ready for the big test,” Nyakeya told Standard Sports on phone.

And according to source close to the team, the rest of the players led by captain Victor Wanyama (Impact Montreal), on-form Kashiwa Reysol striker Michael Olunga, goalkeeper Arnold Origi (HIFK, Finland) and Joseph Okumu (Elfsborg) will be in camp by Sunday before the final squad is whittled down to 20.

While expectations are high for Olunga to spearhead Stars’ attack against the unpredictable Islanders, it is not clear whether the former Djurgårdens IF, Girona and Gor Mahia man will be available for the crucial fixture after 13 players and staff at his Japanese side including their coach Nelsinho Baptista tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We decided to cancel (the final) with a view to preventing further spread of infection,” a J-League statement said late Wednesday. A new date is yet to be decided.

At the same time, three dependable Comoros players have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus ahead of their back-to-back 2021 Afcon qualifiers encounter against Kenya.

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