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SPORTS

Will Firat’s defence save Kenya’s World Cup dream?

FOOTBALL By Reuters | October 4th 2021
Harambee Stars defender Joash Onyango during morning training session at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi on October 07, 2020 ahead of their International Friendly match against Zambia at Nyayo national stadium on Friday, October 09, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

After missing the opening two Group E’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Rwanda and Uganda, Harambee Stars experienced defensive trio of Joash Onyango, Abud Omar and David ‘Calabar’ Owino have been recalled by coach Engin firat.

Former Star’s coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee left out the defensive trio, players who were instrumental in Kenya’s Africa Cup of Nations qualification in 2019.

New coach Firat seems to have returned to the basics that took Stars to Egypt two years ago by recalling the experienced trio over youth.

Onyango (Simba SC, Tanzania), Omar (AEL Larisa, Greece) and Owino (Napsa, Zambia) missed the two draws against Uganda and Rwanda which put Kenya second in Group E standings with two points, two behind leaders Mali.

Fans will be watching the Turkish tactician to see which defensive combination he will go for considering the performances of the inform Erick Ouma, Joseph Okumu and Johnstone Omurwa who have recently been the preferred defensive options at the back.

Will Firat’s defensive wealth save Kenya’s World Cup dream?

Harambee Stars have 12 impressive defenders called up in the 34-man squad set to be trimmed ahead of departure today.

Kariobangi Shark’s Samwel Olwande, Daniel Sakari of Tusker, David Owino of KCB, Bolton Omwenga of Kagera Sugar of Tanzania and FKF Premier League Defender of the Year Eugene Asike are some of the options at the back ahead of the double-header against Mali.

Joash Onyango’s aggressiveness at the back and composure makes him the most favourable and stand out player from the rest.

A partnership between the former Gor Mahia man and Joseph Okumu or David Owino seems more likely to stop the Mali attack but time will tell as Firat prepares for his debut on Thursday.

In the past two matches, Kenya’s defence has been looking strong with minor mistakes but their real test will be against Mali.

Despite that, Kenya has to improve on their attack and build up play if they are to beat the West African side. The forwards have to be clinical and convert their scoring opportunities.

Mali boasts of over 10 players playing in top European football leagues led by Southampton’s Moussa Djenepo, Brighton’s midfielder Yves Bissouma and Reim’s duo of Moussa Doumbia and El bilal Toure both playing in France.

Kenya started their qualification campaign with back-to-back draws. They drew 0-0 with Uganda in Nairobi before settling for a 1-1 draw away to Rwanda. Stars leave for Morocco today.

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