Harambee Stars tackle Les Leopards
What you need to know:
- Okumbi drafts in rested Wanyama, ‘Calabar’ Owino
- Visiting DR Congo set to unleash 2017 Afcon top scorer, lethal Kabananga
- Ticket prices are retailing for Sh200 and Sh500.
Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi is expected to make major changes to his side Sunday afternoon when they face Democratic Republic of Congo in an international friendly match at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Okumbi started with five local-based players in their 1-1 international friendly draw against arch-rivals Uganda Cranes on Thursday, but will no doubt be more cautious against the much-fancied Les Leopards.
Stars captain Victor Wanyama, his assistant Zesco United defender David “Calabar” Owino and first choice goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch did not feature against Uganda, but are expected to be fielded against the formidable Congolese.
DR Congo coach Florente Imbenge is aware of the threat posed by the Kenyans after watching his side lose 1-0 to Stars in Kinshasa last October and has brought his top team to Machakos.
In the absence of Hull City’s big striker Diumerci Mbokani and Everton winger Yannick Bolasie, DRC’s front line will be lead by 2017 Cup of Nations top scorer Junior Kabananga of Kazakistan’s Astana, as Ley Matampi takes his position between the sticks.
Imbenge led his charges to the quarter-finals of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations held in Gabon while Kenya’s last appearance in the continental showpiece was in 2004.
The Les Leopards are also the reigning Africa Nations Championships (Chan) champions and are expected to defend their title in Kenya early next year if they go through the qualifiers unscathed.
Stars are 50 places below the 38th ranked Les Leopards in the latest Fifa World Rankings.
Okumbi is aware of the disparities between the two sides, but remains optimistic of stretching his unbeaten run to 10 matches.
“It is all about planning and determination. We beat them recently so why shouldn’t we do the same once more?” the former Mathare United coach posed.
China-based striker Michael Olunga, who scored against Uganda, is once again set to lead the attack with Wanyama, Zesco United’s Anthony Akumu and Johanna Omollo (Royal Antwerp) candidates to man the midfield.
Owino will return in the four-man backline, with Brian Mandela, Aboud Omar and Joackins Atudo.
Ticket prices are retailing for Sh200 and Sh500.