Harambee Stars: Afcon snub was a wake-up call for me to work harder – Jesse Were

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Kenya coach Sebastien Migne and Jesse Were.
The former Tusker striker reveals to Goal how he felt and what he did after being axed from the national team squad for Afcon

Harambee Stars striker Jesse Were has admitted he was forced to work even harder after being axed from the squad for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.

The Zesco United striker was among the players who were axed by Kenya’s bench led by coach Sebastien Migne, and thus he missed the tournament. Stars failed to make it through the group stage after losing to Senegal and Algeria, despite beating Tanzania.

The exit of coach Migne after the Afcon saw Football Kenya Federation (FKF) hand the mantle to his assistant Francis Kimanzi and in a surprise move the former Mathare United tactician recalled Were to his first squad which is in camp preparing to face Uganda in a friendly on Sunday.

And speaking to Goal on Thursday, the former Tusker striker said he did not have any hard feelings towards coach Migne for the snub.

“As a player, I really worked very hard to make it to the Afcon squad,” Were told Goal. “But I know the coach [Migne] was faced with a very hard time to pick the final squad and maybe he felt I was not ready.

“It was my dream to be in Egypt but unfortunately it never happened. I don’t have any bad feelings to the coach or anyone, and I even prayed every day for the team to perform well at the tournament.

“I also felt the snub was a wake-up call to me because it gave me the confidence to work even harder and win my place back in the team. I now want to use this chance to prove myself, work hard and score goals for the national team.”

Kenyan coach Kimanzi hailed the return of the striker saying it will help the young players in the team to work hard in future.

“[Were] is a very experienced player and I am very happy to have him back in the squad,” Kimanzi continued.

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“I have worked with him at national team level and club level while at Tusker and I know his qualities and what he can offer the team. It is unfortunate he aggravated his hamstring while in training and it is most likely he might not play against Uganda.

“But it is good to have him in camp because he can also inspire the squad we already have and I am looking forward to working with him in the future.”

Kenya will use the friendly against the Cranes to gauge their preparedness ahead of their 2021 Afcon qualifying matches against Egypt and Togo.