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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Harambee Stars: Why I recalled striker Avire - Kimanzi

7:35 AM GMT 05/11/2019
John Avire of Kenya Sofapaka and Harambee Stars.
The former Mathare United coach reveals why he recalled the Sofapaka forward to the squad for upcoming Afcon qualifiers

Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi has revealed why he opted to recall striker John Avire for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The young Avire is yet to play competitively as he is embroiled in a transfer tussle pitting Sofapaka and his Egyptian suitors, Tanta SC. Already world governing body Fifa has intervened on the matter asking Tanta not to use the player until they agree on a transfer fee with Sofapaka.

Despite lacking playing time since the 2019 Afcon finals held in Egypt, Kimanzi has defended the decision saying he did not see any other striker join the national team for the 2021 Afcon qualifiers against Egypt and Togo.

“I have been in constant communication with [Avire’s] teams. Even though he has not been playing, the information I get from him and his team is he is in a good condition, otherwise, I would not even have considered him,” Kimanzi is quoted by The Star.

The former Mathare United coach has now warned Kenyan strikers to pull up their socks if they are to be considered for national team assignments.

“Who would I have called up? posed Kimanzi. “[Avire] has experience and I hope if he plays for us, Fifa can rethink their stance and let the player resume his club career.”

Apart from Avire, Kimanzi recalled AFC Leopards striker John Mark Makwatta while Ulinzi Stars’ forward Enos Ochieng’, who was among the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) top scorers last season, was left out due to injury.

Meanwhile, Young Africans (Yanga SC) goalkeeper Farouk Shikalo, who did not cover himself in glory in last month’s 1-0 defeat to Mozambique, was omitted from the team.

Kimanzi said they had made the decision with his fellow coaches.

“We consulted as the technical bench and decided not to include him in this squad.”

Kenya will go into non-residential camp on Tuesday ahead of their clash against Egypt on November 14, in Cairo and Togo on November 19,  at Kasarani Stadium.