A new-look national team squad for the Group G 2021 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers fixtures has been named by Harambee Stars coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee.
However the squad will be without the services of top foreign-based players including Victor Wanyama, Arnold Origi and Johanna Omolo among others.
Mulee named only ten foreign-based players led by assistant captain Michael Olunga, Joseph Okumu, Eric Ouma and Anthony Akumu have been included in the 28-man squad that will clash with Egypt on March 25 in Nairobi before flying out to Togo on March 29.
Mulee defended his selection, saying that it was purely based on the players’ current form.
“As a national team coach there are some tough decisions I have to make for the betterment of the team. I have selected these players based on their current form and activeness in their respective leagues, nothing else,” said Mulee.
“It is not about replacing someone but their ability to play at the top level. We are slowly but surely trying to build a team for the future and that’s why I think everyone who has been called up deserves a chance to wear the national team jersey.”
He continued: “It was a bit difficult to engage the local-based players in the team against Comoros due to lack of match fitness. But I feel they have proven that in the last few training sessions.”
Olunga is back in the team after missing encounters against Comoros due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But Wanyama’s exclusion means that third placed Kenya will have a new captain in the next two fixtures as they seek to revive their qualification chances to the AFCON finals.
Zambia-based Duncan Otieno (Lusaka Warriors) makes a return to the team after almost three years in the cold alongside Nkana Red Devils midfielder Duke Abuya with majority of the FKF Premier League players who featured in recent friendly wins over South Sudan (1-0) and Tanzania (2-1) at Nyayo Stadium also making the cut.
While Mulee has retained the attacking duo of Erick Kapaito (Kariobangi Sharks) and Elvis Rupia (AFC Leopards), he has surprisingly included Nzoia Sugar midfielder Kevin Simiyu and KCB goalkeeper Joseph Okoth in the squad despite failing to field them in the two friendlies.
The local-based players are set to report to residential camp today, a day before their foreign-based counterparts start checking in.