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Mubiru on Okwi's Uganda captaincy and squad depth to face Harambee Stars

3:09 PM SGT 8/9/19
Emmanuel-Okwi of Uganda.
The Egyptian-based forward has been named Cranes captain when they take on Kenya in a friendly at Kasarani Stadium

Ugandan striker Emmanuel Okwi has been handed the mantle to skipper the side when they take on Harambee Stars.

The 25-year-old Okwi, who recently signed for Egyptian side Al Ittihad from Simba SC of Tanzania, will step in for regular captain and custodian Denis Onyango, who pulled out of the friendly earlier this week.

“We have handed the armband to [Okwi] in Onyango's absence and I know he will do a good job,” Uganda coach Abdallah Mubiru told Goal on Saturday.

“It is unfortunate some of our professionals have failed to come for the friendly but we understand the situation and as I said earlier, it is a good chance to test the new players we have in the squad ahead of the Chan competition and Afcon qualifiers.”

Like Harambee Stars, who will miss the services of captain Victor Wanyama, Johanna Omollo, Joseph Okumu and Ismael Gonzalez, Uganda will also have to do without Turkey-based player Farouk Miya and Abdu Lumala who plays in Egypt.

The absence of Wanyama saw Kenyan coach Francis Kimanzi pass the armband to Japanese-based striker Michael Olunga and he will be assisted by Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango.

“I have a good squad around for the friendly and always it is good to check on what these young boys can give the team,” Mubiru continued.

“It always is a process to build a team and we have already started and I know it will be good to have a strong squad for the new technical bench which will come in before the Afcon qualifiers start.”

This is going to be a 77th meeting between the regional bitter rivals. The Cranes have a better record having won 32 of the previous games and lost 22 times, with the rest ending in a draw.

In their last meeting, a Moses Waiswa's strike with about three minutes to go gave the Cranes a one-all draw at Machakos in 2017. Michael Olunga had given Kenya a deserved lead in the 35th minute.