World Cup qualifiers: Olunga 'still part' of Malawi-bound Harambee Stars squad

Michael Olunga (L) of Harambee Stars contest for ball with Rashid Toha Freedon of South Sudan during a past International Friendly match. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Harambee Stars trended for the better part of the day on social media after captain Michael Olunga was omitted from the earlier released 25-man provisional squad named by head coach Engin Firat on Monday ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Malawi.

Kenya are set to face off against Burundi and Ivory Coast in their next two qualifiers set to be played at Bingu National Stadium in Malawi on June 7 and June 11 respectively.

Olunga alongside influential midfielder Richard Odada and Daniel Anyembe were not included in the list that was majorly dominated by local players.

The trio missing from the list divided Kenyans on social media as people argued and debated possible reasons as to why Olunga of all the players was left behind.

“How do you not call up your own captain?!!!” @mkei said.

@mudagala said, “We need reasons, si ati natetea Olunga lakini...”

“Dropped? Why now..?” @JoelNyongesa asked.

@MadaraDif said, “Someone's player must play. With Olunga and Odada in the team, the assets won’t have chance and we know transfer window is opening soon. We know the drill. Jokers.”

However, Firat clarified that the trio including captain Olunga will join the team which will be entering camp on Tuesday in Malawi.

According to a confidential source in the federation, there was some miscommunication since the list that was circulated earlier should not have included international based players but only local players.

Meanwhile, Perth Glory striker Bruce Kamau is among the players to have been handed a maiden call-up to the Kenya national team.

Former Gor midfielder John Ochieng, who plays professional football in Zambia with Zanaco, has also secured his first call-up alongside Gor Mahia’s Austin Odhiambo who returns after a public spat by Firat.

Tobias Knost, who plies his trade in Germany with SV Verl and Adam Wilson, who plays for Bradford City in England also earn their maiden calls as Duke Abuya and Elvis Rupia return to the team.

Provisional Squad

Goalkeepers

Patrick Matasi (Kenya Police), Byrne Odhiambo (Bandari), Boniphas Munyasa (Muranga Seal), Ian Otieno (Zesco, Zambia)

Defenders

Johnstone Omurwa (Estrela, Portugal), Alphonse Omija (Dhofar-Oman), Amos Nondi (Ararat, Armenia), Brian Okoth (Kenya Police), Abud Omar (Kenya Police), Tobias Knost (SV Verl, Germany)

Midfielders

John Ochieng (Zanaco, Zambia), Eric Johanna (UTA, Romania), Adam Wilson (Bradford City, England), Anthony Akumu (Unattached), Kenneth Muguna (Kenya Police), Kaycie Odhiambo (AFC Leopards), Chrispine Erambo (Tusker), Rooney Onyango (Gor Mahia), Ayub Timbe (Sabail, Azeberijan), Duke Abuya (Singida, Tanzania), Bruce Kamau (Perth Glory, Australia)

Forwards

John Avire (El Sekka El Hadid SC, Egypt), Austine Odhiambo (Gor Mahia), Benson Omala (Gor Mahia), Elvis Rupia (Singida, Tanzania)

By AFP 1 hr ago
Football
Euro 2024: You can look, but you can't touch
Athletics
Kaptagat: Legend Kimutai living his dream of nurturing stars
Athletics
Paris Olympics 2024: World champion Moraa promises to stretch her ambitions in France
Football
Marion Serenge wins June's SJAK Sports Personality of the Month Award