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Harambee Stars coach Kimanzi to test fringe players against Uganda

09:27 SAST 2019/09/03
The Kenyan coach is wary of The Cranes set up as the two sides prepare to face off in a friendly at Kasarani Stadium on Sunday

Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi has admitted Uganda will give them a tough test during their friendly match on September 8.

The two East African neighbours are set to meet at Kasarani Stadium and Kenya’s new coach has said it will not be an easy fixture for both sides.

“[Uganda] is a very strong opponent and of course we saw their performances during the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt and we must be well prepared to face them,” Kimanzi told Goal after the team’s first training session on Tuesday.

“We are also trying to think about how we can work out and challenge them to the best of our ability.

“But they were in Afcon and we were also there but different groups of course but I think every team has to prepare differently because also this is a different unit and they might have different players from the ones who took part in the Afcon.”

Kimanzi has also explained the absence of three key players – Victor Wanyama, Johanna Omollo, and Joseph Okumu – will give a chance to other players in the squad to prove themselves.

Wanyama was left out of the squad to face The Cranes to resolve his transfer complications with Tottenham Hotspur while Omollo is out injured and Okumu was given time to settle at his new club IF Elfsborg in Sweden.

“I don’t think it is a blow for us to miss the players, yes, as a coach you always want to have your best players available but in this case, we have valid reasons why they are not coming,” Kimanzi continued.

“It is a good opportunity for the new call-ups to step up and show us what they can do when we don’t have the regulars and I want to see how they perform against Uganda.”

In the absence of Wanyama, Kimanzi has drafted in Gor Mahia midfielder Lawrence Juma who was in the reserve squad. Also recalled to the Kenyan squad is Ulinzi Stars striker Enosh Ochieng and Bernard Otieno of Bandari FC.

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

Uganda interim head coach Abdalla Mubiru has already named a 25-man squad for the friendly set to be played at Kasarani Stadium.

The Cranes, who were eliminated from the Round of 16 in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, will also use the match in preparation for the 2021 Afcon qualifying ties against Burkina Faso and Malawi in November.