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Harambee Stars: Kimanzi singles out two players for praise after Uganda draw

2:20 PM EDT 9/9/19
Johnstone Omurwa of Wazito FC and Harambe STars Kenya.
The former Mathare United coach is happy with the display of his new players after the national team ground out a draw against the Cranes

Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi has named the two new players who impressed him most after the 1-1 draw against Uganda on Sunday.

Uganda took a deserved lead courtesy of Emmanuel Okwi but Kenya levelled in the second half after Gor Mahia midfielder Kenneth Muguna tapped home a cross from winger Ayub Timbe.

Kimanzi, who handed debuts to six new players, has now singled out Lawrence Juma of Gor Mahia and Johnstone Omurwa of Wazito FC as the players who stood out despite featuring on the biggest stage for the first time.

“The good thing about the friendly is we have some belief in the team and some players surprised me, like Lawrence [Juma], you could see the zeal he had despite it being his first time,” Kimanzi told Goal.

“[Juma] wanted to show he can play in the midfield and be effective as well. I am also impressed with what I saw from Johnstone [Omurwa] in the second half of the game.

"The new players are excellent, just a few things are needed before you can see their true colours.

“If they manage to learn how to absorb pressure in the next two games we will play before Egypt, then we will have enough depth to do better as well against Egypt. They just have to cope with the intensity which comes at this level of the game.”

Kimanzi insists the backbone of Kenyan football lies with local players, and he will not hesitate to field them for future assignments.

“I will continue to use the local-based players and see how far we can go with them,” Kimanzi continued.

“They have something they want to offer the country and we must give them the chance to prove us wrong. If you want to build a strong national team you always have to start somewhere, and must always have trust with the squad you have back home."

Kimanzi handed first starts to Collins Agade, (Bandari FC), Lawrence Juma (Gor Mahia) and Samuel Olwande (Kariobangi Sharks), while Johnstone Omurwa (Wazito FC), Nicholas Meja (Bandari), and Boniface Muchiri (Tusker FC) came on in the second half.

Kenya will next face Libya in a friendly slated for Morocco on October 11 before they return home three days later to host Mozambique.