What you need to know:
- Kimanzi, who was promoted to the role following the sacking of Sebastien Migne, says he is eager to see what some of the local based players can offer against a formidable side
- Zambia-based striker Jesse Were, despite being in camp, is nursing a hamstring injury and is a doubt for the match
- In the absence of captain Victor Wanyama, Japan-based forward Michael Olunga will take over as skipper
Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi says Sunday's international friendly match against Uganda is a good opportunity to test fresh blood in the national team.
Kimanzi, who was promoted to the role following the sacking of Sebastien Migne, says he is eager to see what some of the local based players can offer against a formidable side.
The team will be without several key players that were part of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) campaign notably captain Victor Wanyama, Johanna Omolo, Joseph Okumu, Abud Omar, Ismael Gonzalez amongst others. Zambia-based striker Jesse Were, despite being in camp, is nursing a hamstring injury and is a doubt for the match. But while many would see his absence as a blow for Harambee Stars, Kimanzi is not worried.
“We will miss a number of senior players due to acceptable reasons but this is a good opportunity to test our depth by giving an opportunity to other players. Of course we want to win against Uganda but the bigger mission is to check what these players that haven’t had the opportunity to play for the national team regularly can do – this could be the beginning of something exciting,” Kimanzi said after Thursday’s training session at Kasarani.
The Uefa A license holder expects a tough match against Cranes on Sunday. “I’m sure they want to beat us but at the same time I know, just like us, they are eager to test some new players and new things. Therefore we expect a tough but very exciting match. This is a continuation of the work that we have been doing as a national team and the progressive work and unity within the unit is what will drive success,” he added.
In the absence of captain Victor Wanyama, Japan-based forward Michael Olunga will take over as skipper. He says he is ready to step up and lead the team against Cranes.
“We have trained very well and are ready for the game. It is just a friendly but this is the East African derby and there are bragging rights at stake. We therefore have to fight hard and ensure we win. What I like about the current composition of the team is that it has several young local based players. That shows they are already eyeing the future because probably in a few years Wanyama, myself and other senior players will not be in the set-up and therefore it is very important to be prepared for that eventuality,” Olunga said.
“I have been in the national team since 2015 and with a lot of young players coming into the team now it feels good to step up and fill in the void left by our able captain Victor Wanyama. I will try to lead by example on Sunday," he added.
Harambee Stars will be using the friendly to prepare for their 2021 Afcon qualifiers against Egypt and Togo in November.
Football Kenya Federation has also lined up two more build-up games in October against Libya in Morocco and at home against Mozambique. Kimanzi is optimistic the team will be in good shape for their opener against the Pharaohs after the friendly matches.