Nairobi — The national Under-23 team, the Emerging Stars, jetted out for Bahir Dar, Ethiopia on Wednesday morning ahead of the CECAFA Under-23 Challenge Cup which kicks off on Sunday.
The Stanley Okumbi-coached side is confident they can battle for the title as it changes to an Under-23 format for the first time, having been previously played by senior teams.
“We know it us going to be a very tough tournament but we are ready to face anyone. According to the quality we have in the team we don’t have an excuse not to perform and we have to go out and do well for the country,” Okumbi said after leading out his final training session at the Ruaraka Complex on Tuesday evening.
The tactician has named a strong squad for the tournament and his charges will be skippered by Wazito’s Bernard Ochieng who is one of the three over-age players allowed into the squad.
Tusker’s Boniface Muchiri and Kakamega Homeboyz’s David Odhiambo are the two other overage players included in the final travelling team.
The tactician is hopeful that the strong squad will do well and says they have only been working on tactical alignments to ensure they can match up with their opponents.
“At least we have 80pc of the players that we intended to have and we thank the clubs for allowing us to have some of their key players who will also be our key players. We have selected the strongest squad that we possibly could,” said coach Stanley Okumbi.
“We have a very flexible squad in terms of attacking and defending. We have been working on our tactical shapes mostly because in terms of fitness the players are okay as they have been playing week in week out at their clubs,” he added.
The squad will have a hugely talented field to pick from with Tusker striker Henry Meja, Gor Mahia’s Benson Omala and KCB’s Reagan Otieno among thosw who will be relied upon to grab the goals for the Emerging Stars.
Kenya squad for CECAFA U23
Caleb Omondi (Gor Mahia), Brian Bwire (Kariobangi Sharks)
Sylvester Owino (Kakamega Homeboyz), Bernard Ochieng (Wazito FC), Frank Odhiambo (Gor Maha), Lewis Bandi (AFC Leopards), Bonface Mwangemi (Kariobangi Sharks), Fredrick Alushula (Kariobangi Sharks), Brian Wepo (KCB FC).
Yidah Sven (Nairobi City Stars), Marvin Nabwire (AFC Leopards), Vincent Wasambo (KCB FC), Austine Odhiambo (AFC Leopards), Regean Otieno (KCB FC), Oliver Maloba (Nairobi City Stars), Josphat Lopaga (Posta Rangers), Steiner Musasia (Posta Rangers), John Njuguna (Ulinzi Stars), Boniface Muchiri (Tusker FC), David Odhiambo (Kakamega Homeboyz)
Benson Omala (Gor Mahia), Henry Meja (Tusker), Alfred Tanui (Kisumu All Stars)