Posta Rangers coach Sammy Omollo has stated Michael Olunga's absence in Harambee Stars' squad will be a blessing in disguise, especially for the local-based players.
The 26-year-old who plays for Kashiwa Reysol, captain Victor Wanyama of the Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Montreal Impact, and Johanna Omollo of Cercle Brugge of Belgium are tied by strict Covid-19 protocols imposed by their respective countries.
"It will be a major blow for Kenya to miss Olunga even if it is against Zambia because it could have been a basis for the Afcon qualifiers," Omollo told Goal on Thursday.
"In the midfield, we do not have many problems considering [Anthony] Akumu can replace Wanyama while the likes of Kenneth Muguna can fill the void left by Omollo. But for Olunga, currently, we do not have a replacement.
"But again, this is a challenge for the local-based players to rise up for the occasion and perform."
Harambee Stars provisional squad
Goalkeepers: Arnold Origi (HIFK, Finland), Ian Otieno (Zesco United, Zambia), Timothy Odhiambo (Ulinzi Stars, Kenya)
Defenders: Brian Mandela (Unattached), Joash Onyango (Simba, Tanzania), Joseph Okumu (Elfsborg, Sweden), Harun Shakava (Nkana, Zambia), Clarke Oduor (Barnsley, England), Hillary Wandera (Tusker, Kenya), Samuel Olwande (Kariobangi Sharks, Kenya), David Owino (Mathare United, Kenya), Johnstone Omurwa (Wazito, Kenya), Collins Shichenje (AFC Leopards, Kenya), Andrew Juma (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Philemon Otieno (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Badi Baraka (KCB, Kenya)
Midfielders: Kenneth Muguna (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Victor Wanyama (Impact Montreal, Canada), Francis Kahata (Simba, Tanzania), Eric Johanna (Jonkoping’s Sodra IF, Sweden), Cliff Nyakeya (Masr FC, Egypt), Antony Akumu (Kaiser Chief, South Africa), Johanna Omolo (Cercle Brugge K.S.V, Belgium), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe, China), Brian Musa (Wazito, Kenya), Lawrence Juma (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Katana Mohamed (Isloch, Belarus), Austin Otieno (AFC Leopards, Kenya)
Forwards: Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol, Japan), Elvis Rupia (AFC Leopards, Kenya), Masud Juma (JS Kabylie, Algeria), Timothy Otieno (NAPSA Stars, Zambia), John Avire (Tanta FC, Egypt), Oscar Wamalwa (Ulinzi Stars, Kenya)
Reserve Team: Robert Mboya (Tusker, Kenya), Stephen Otieno (Sofapaka, Kenya), Michael Mutinda (KCB), Ibrahim Shambi (Ulinzi Stars, Kenya) Chrispinus Onyango (Tusker, Kenya), Benson Omala (Gor Mahia, Kenya)