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What the return of Macdonald Mariga means for Harambee Stars

13:12 GMT+3 23/03/2018
Former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech and midfielder Macdonald Mariga
The former Inter Milan midfielder last turned out for the national team in 2014 during an Afcon preliminary match against Lesotho

Real Oviedo's McDonald Mariga was the surprise inclusion in Harambee Stars squad that is set to play two friendly matches against Comoros and the Central African Republic respectively.

The former Inter Milan star, last turned out for the national team way back in 2014 during an Afcon preliminary qualification match against Lesotho where the team lost 1-0 on aggregate.

Mariga is one of the most experienced players in the country, having played for the Stars more than 40 times, scoring five goals in the process. The defensive midfielder has also turned for top clubs in Europe, including Helsingborgs IF, Parma, Inter Milan and Real Sociedad.

The midfielder also played for Tusker and Kenya Pipeline locally. So what does his inclusion mean for the team? Here is what some former players’ think.

“Mariga is currently on top form at his club Oviedo, and definitely that was considered before his inclusion. The experience he brings in the team is what is important, and he definitely has a point to prove because he is aware time is not on his side.” - James Nandwa, former Harambee Stars coach.

“Well, Mariga has played against the best in the world, and he is still doing so. We cannot compare Spain's second division with the Kenyan Premier League, their level is better, and with the experience he, Mariga, has I am sure Kenya will benefit.” - Boniface Ambani, former Stars striker.

“We have a habit of sending players to retire early which is not good. Mariga is playing well for his side, he still has value and Kenya can benefit from his inclusion. He will also serve as a mentor for the upcoming players in the team, so I support his inclusion.” - Nicholas Muyoti, Thika United head coach.

Kenya will use the matches to prepare for their Afcon qualifying match against Ghana in September. The first friendly will be against Comoros on Saturday in Marrakech, Morocco, with the second coming against CAR on Tuesday.