Voice of Sport

Kenya closing in on Uganda who are no longer a ‘shoo-in’ for 2019 AFCON qualification

Football Kenya Federation promises of Harambee Stars’ matches in Rwanda and a friendly with Angola in Nairobi were just ‘hot air’. As Uganda visit friendlyl Hawassa City in Ethiopia, Kenya to travel to Sierra Leone without warm-up match

Chinese-based Harambee Stars midfield man Ayub Timbe Masika is back in readiness to face Sierra Leone in Freetown on June 10 at 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifying group matches begin
Uganda Cranes players in their last warm-up match at home against a domestic regional at Buhinga Stadium (won 3-1) before leaving for Ethiopia and then Senegal, en route to Cape Verde for their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying tie in Praia City on June 10. The players are from left, Nelson Senkatuka, Milton Karisa and veteran Emmanuel Okwi

Uganda Cranes players in their last warm-up match at home against a domestic regional team at Buhinga Stadium (won 3-1) before leaving for Ethiopia and then Senegal, en route to Cape Verde for their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying tie in Praia City on June 10. The players are from left, Nelson Senkatuka, Milton Karisa and veteran Emmanuel Okwi

2019 AFCON qualifiers:

FIXTURES:

Friday, June 9:

22.00: Gp ‘E’, Libya v Seychelles – (TBA)

22.00: Gp ‘A’, *Sudan v Madagascar – (El Ubayyid, Sudan)

Sat, June 10:

15.00: Gp ‘C’, Burundi v *South Sudan – (Prince Louis Rwagasore, Bujumbura, BUR)

14.30: Gp ‘B’, Malawi v Comoros – (Kamuzu Banda Stadium, Blantyre, Malawi)

15.00: Gp ‘B’, Cameroon v Morocco – (Omnisports Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde, CMR)

15.00: Gp ‘K’, Zambia Mozambique – (Levy Mwanawasa, Ndola, ZAM)

15.30: Gp ‘I’, Botswana v Mauritania – (Francistown, Francistown, BOT)

16.00: Gp ‘J’, Niger v Swaziland – (Stade General S.K, Niamey, NIG)

16.00: Gp ‘K’, Guinea Bissau v Namibia – (Estadio 24 de Setembro, Bissau, GNB)

16.30: Gp ‘F’, Sierra Leone v *Kenya – (Siaka Stevens Stadium, Freetown, SLE)

16.30: Gp ‘L’, Cape Verde v *Uganda – (Praia, Pria, CPV)

17.00: Gp ‘E’, Nigeria v South Africa – (Akwa Ibom Stadium, Uyo, NGA)

18.00: Gp ‘I’, Burkina Faso v Angola – (4 aout, Ouagadougou, BFA)

18.30: Gp ‘G’, Congo Kinshasa v Congo Brazzaville – (Complexe Omnisports stade des Martyrs, Kinshasa, COD)

19.00: Gp ‘C’, Mali v Gabon – (Stade 26 Mars, Bamako, MLI)

20.00: Gp ‘A’, Senegal v Equatorial Guinea – (Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor, Dakar, SEN)

20.00: Gp ‘L’, *Tanzania v Lesotho – (National Stadium, Dar es Salaam, TAN)

20.00: Gp ‘H’, Cote d’Ivoire v Guinea – (Stade de Bouake, Bouake, CIV)

Sun, June 11:

15.00: Gp ‘G’, Zimbabwe v Liberia – (National Sports Stadium, Harare, ZIM)

15.00: Gp ‘H’, Central African Republic v *Rwanda – (Stade Barthelemy Boganda, Bangui, CAF)

15.30: Gp ‘F’, Ghana v *Ethiopia – (Baba Yara Sports Stadium, Kumasi, GHA)

16.00: Gp ‘D’, Benin v Gambia – (Stade de l’Amitie de Kouhounou, Cotonou, BEN)

22.00: Gp ‘D’, Algeria v Togo – (Stade Mustapha Tchaker, Blida, ALG)

23.00: Gp ‘J’, Tunisia v Egypt – (Stade Olympique Rades, Tunis, TUN)

*Cecafa region teams

ON paper, Kenya football seems to have covered a lot of ground on arch rival neighbours Uganda, even inching close to a dead heat on the Fifa world rankings, but proof of the two countries’ real capability will be in a week when the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers begin.

Kenya coach Stanley Okumbi announced both the foreign-based players and locals he will put in his preparatory squad. His 13 based abroad look a serious bunch that can out-match Uganda Cranes counterparts on coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević.

Kariobangi Sharks defender Bolton Omwenga … one of the emerging players called in the Harambee Stars’ 2019 AFCON qualifying preparations

Kariobangi Sharks defender Bolton Omwenga … one of the emerging players called in for the Harambee Stars’ 2019 AFCON qualifying preparations

In fact ‘Micho’s’ cast appears to be long in the tooth – guys who have been around for too long and their sharpness suspect – refer to players such as Emmanuel Okwi and Martin Kiiza. It almost points at desperation when Uganda laments the unavailability of Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, Moses Oloya and Tony Mawejje, some of who have been with the Cranes since before 2009.

Uganda are down to 74th place in the Fifa rankings and Kenya have stormed from their worst ever 134th in July 2012, to current 74th, very close to their best ever 68th in July 2008. Next weekend the two countries embark on AFCON qualification and whereas Uganda, straight from the last edition in Gabon, looked a shoo-in to qualify from their Group ‘F’ [with Cape Verde, Tanzania and Lesotho] just by looking at the Cranes’ squad now, you could take that back.

Gor Mahia’s Harambee Stars’ No. 1 goalie has shown dependability this season for club and country

Gor Mahia’s Harambee Stars’ No. 1 goalie Boniface Oluoch has shown dependability this season for club and country

On the other hand, Kenya, despite their recent improvement are in a ‘group of death’ and just how Okumbi lifts his men to come on top of the intimidating name of Ghana and then Ethiopia and Cape Verde is daunting.

Uganda kick off with Cape Verde, away in Praia on Saturday June 10 while Kenya will be visiting Freetown to face Sierra Leone at Siaka Stevens Stadium on the same day.

Okumbi has assembled the men from the domestic league, the Kenyan Premier League [KPL] which, having taken a break after last weekend matches, allowed Harambee Stars to assemble in Machakos. They will be joined, at least for the mandatory five-days prior to match [by Fifa rules] by foreign-based players. Kenya now looks far much improved in the assembly of men plying their trade abroad than Uganda.

A string of success for Stanley Okumbi with Harambee Stars which show a push up the Fifa world rankings but now the real test comes with the 2019 AFCON qualifying matches; first off is v Sierra Leone in Freetown next Saturday

A string of success for Stanley Okumbi with Harambee Stars which saw a push up the Fifa world rankings but now the real test comes with the 2019 AFCON qualifying matches; first off is v Sierra Leone in Freetown next Saturday

Okumbi’s foreign 13 include Chinese-based midfield man Ayub Timbe Masika, left back Erick “Marcelo” Ouma and midfielder Eric Johannah. All the three missed Kenya’s last match, a friendly in Machakos against Congo [Kinshasa] as they were yet to settle in with their new clubs. Masika had just joined Chinese second-tier side Beijing Renhe while Ouma was with Georgian outfit Kolkheti Poti. After work permit challenges, Johannah had just landed in Sweden to start his adventure with second-tier side Vasalunds IF.

The ‘foreigners’ are expected to join up in Machakos beginning tomorrow [Saturday]. South Africa-based defender Joseph Okumu, the 20-year old who plays for Free State Stars will also be coming. He was in the team in November 2016, playing in the friendly against Sudan in Nairobi.

AFC Leopards’ defender Robinson Kimura (left) and Boniface Muchiri of Sony Sugar tussle for the ball during Harambee Stars training at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County on Friday

AFC Leopards’ defender Robinson Mwangi Kamura (left) and Boniface Muchiri of Sony Sugar tussle for the ball during Harambee Stars’ training at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County on Friday

Twenty six locals are at camp since Sunday evening and Okumbi will downsize the squad after the 13 foreign-based players touch down. Kenya has not qualified for AFCON since 2004 – in Tunisia under Jacob “Ghost” Mulee.

Many of the AFCON qualifying campaigners have lined up friendlies this weekend and early next week but a Football Kenya Federation [FKF] announcement that Angola would test Kenya was unreliable as the fixture is off. Angola are training in Portugal before dropping down to West Africa to face Burkina Faso in a Group “I” tie.

Again, the FKF talked of Harambee Stars playing in the Rwanda Genocide Memorial in Kigali, but Rwanda will instead be entertaining Morocco on June 2 and 4. Rwanda travel to Central Africa Republic for AFCON and Morocco are away to Cameroon in Yaounde.

Brian Mandela (right) of South African club Maritzburg in action for Harambee Stars against Congo at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County. Mandela was already in the country for upcoming 2019 AFCON qualifier away in Sierra Leone

Brian Mandela (right) of South African club Maritzburg in action for Harambee Stars against Congo at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County. Mandela was already in the country for upcoming 2019 AFCON qualifier away in Sierra Leone

Uganda were more organised and the Cranes are already in the friendly city of Hawassa in Ethiopia’s state of SNNPR [Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region]. The Cranes will play Ethiopia tomorrow in the new and beautiful stadium in Hawassa that hosted the 2015 Cecafa Challenge Cup matches while still under construction.

Ethiopia will be preparing for travel to Ghana while the Cranes are en route to face Senegal next Tuesday in another friendly in Dakar before AFCON duty against Cape Verde in Praia City on June 10.

The Cranes are at the moment without goalkeepers Denis Onyango of Mamelodi Sundowns [South Africa] and Jamal Salim Magoola of El Merreikh [Sudan] and Kampala Capital City Authority [KCCA] players who are facing CAF [Confederation of Africa Football] club competition action this weekend.

Harambee Stars celebrate a recent goal by hot goal-getter Michael Olunga Ogada (No. 14) of China club Guizhou Zhicheng

Harambee Stars celebrate a recent goal by hot goal-getter Michael Olunga Ogada (No. 14) of China club Guizhou Zhicheng

Onyango, Magoola and the KCCA players Geoffrey Sserunkuma and defender Denis Okot will connect with the team for the Dakar trip after tomorrow’s friendly in Hawassa. Depending on squad members’ performance against Ethiopia in Hawassa and the aforementioned players’ state after their respective CAF club engagements this weekend, Sredojević will pronounce who joins the team to Dakar on Sunday and who returns home.

For Harambee Stars, coach Okumbi was surprised by the act of three Gor Mahia players he had called up to the squad refusing to accept. Instead, Kenneth Muguna, Harun Shakava and Timothy Otieno, chose to travel today (Friday) with their club for a one-week football tournament between Tanzania and Kenya Clubs in Dar es Salaam.

Two Kenya Defence Forces on the Harambee Stars training squad, forward Sammy Onyango (above) and red-hot scorer in the current Kenyan Premier League season Stephen Waruru (below) both of former many-time league champions Ulinzi Stars

Three soldiers of the Kenya Defence Forces on the Harambee Stars training squad, forward Sammy Onyango (above); red-hot scorer in the current Kenyan Premier League season Stephen Waruru (below) and bottom goalie James Saruni — all of former many-time league champions Ulinzi Stars. The fourth is midfielder Daniel Waweru

Two Kenya Defence Forces on the Harambee Stars training squad, forward Sammy Onyango (above) and red-hot scorer in the current Kenyan Premier League season Stephen Waruru (below) both of former many-time league champions Ulinzi Stars

Of course Okumbi has a lot he could do if he wanted the players. By Fifa rules, it is mandatory that a player accepts national team call-ups on official match dates. Sanctions can be taken against a player if he engaged in football elsewhere.

But these Gor Mahia players are fringe players who were unlikely to find slots in the Harambee Stars travelling party after the arrival of foreign-based players, and perhaps Okumbi allowing them to get off lightly

KENYA:

(Domestic-based players):

Goalkeepers:

1 Boniface Oluoch – (Gor Mahia)

2 James Saruni – (Ulinzi Stars)

3 Patrick Matasi – (Posta Rangers)

Defenders:

4 Pascal Ogweno – (Kariobangi Sharks)

5 Bolton Omwenga – (Kariobangi Sharks)

6 Musa Mohammed – (Gor Mahia)

7 Haron Shakava – (Gor Mahia)

8 Titus Achesa – (Posta Rangers)

9 Jockins Otieno Atudo – (Posta Rangers)

10 Simon Mbugua – (Posta Rangers)

11 Robinson Mwangi Kamura – (AFC Leopards)

12 Marlon Tangauzi – (Tusker)

Midfielders:

13 Ovella Ochieng’– (Kariobangi Sharks)

14 Duncan Otieno – (AFC Leopards)

15 Kenneth Muguna – (Gor Mahia)

16 Ernest Wendo – (Gor Mahia)

17 Jackson Macharia – (Tusker)

18 Daniel Waweru – (Ulinzi Stars)

19 Samuel Onyango – (Ulinzi Stars)

20 Stephen Waruru – (Ulinzi Stars)

21 Victor Majid – (Chemelil Sugar)

Strikers:

22 Boniface Muchiri – (Sony Sugar)

23 Daniel Mwaura – (Mathare United)

24 Joseph Waithera – (Wazito FC)

25 Masita Masuta – (Nzoia Sugar)

26 Masoud Musa – (Kariobangi Sharks)

(Foreign-based players):

1 Victor Wanyama – (Tottenham Hotspurs, England)

2 Aboud Omar – (Slava Sofia, Bulgaria)

3 Anthony ‘Teddy’ Akumu – (Zesco United, Zambia)

4 Jesse Were – (Zesco United, Zambia)

5 David ‘Calabar’ Owino – (Zesco United, Zambia)

6 Ayub Timbe Masika – (Beijing Renhe, China)

7 David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng’ – (New York Cosmos, USA)

8 Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma- (Kolkheti Poti, Georgia)

9 Erick Johanna – (Vasalunds IF, Sweden)

10 Johanna Omollo – (Royal Antwerp, Belgium)

11 Joseph Okumu – (Free State Stars, South Africa)

12 Michael Olunga Ogada – (Guizhou Zhicheng, China)
13 Brian Mandela – (Maritzburg, South Africa

Coach: Stanley Okumbi – (Kenya)

Uganda Cranes in their last friendly match against Harambee Stars at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County. The teams drew 1-1

Uganda Cranes in their last friendly match against Harambee Stars at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County. The teams drew 1-1

UGANDA v Ethiopia (Hawassa City, Saturday):

Goalkeepers:

1 Ismail Watenga – (Vipers)

2 Said Keni – (Proline)

Defenders:

3 Nicholas Wadada – (Vipers)

4 Murshiid Juuko – (Simba, Tanzania)

5 Hassan Wasswa Mawanda – (Nijemh, Lebanon)

6 Godfrey Walusimbi – (Gor Mahia, Kenya)

7 Savio Kabugo – (Proline)

Midfielders:

8 Khalid Aucho – (Red Star, Serbia)

9 Crizestom Ntambi – (Jimma Aba Buna, Ethiopia)

10 Deus Bukenya – (Vipers)

11 Martin Kizza – (SC Villa)

12 Robert Kakeeto – (Aalborg, Denmark)

13 Bernard Muwanga – (SC Villa)

Forwards:

14 Emmanuel Okwi – (SC Villa)

15 Nelson Senkatuka– (Proline)

16 Muhammad Shaban – (Onduparaka)

17 Milton Kariisa – (Vipers)

18 Farouk Miya – (Standard Leige, on loan to Royal Excel Mouscron)

Coach: Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević – (Serbia)

Uganda Cranes in their last training before leaving for Ethiopia for friendly with Ethiopia in Hawassa City on Saturday

Uganda Cranes in their last training before leaving for Ethiopia for friendly with Ethiopia in Hawassa City on Saturday

FIXTURES:

Uganda Cranes upcoming matches

  • June 3,  2017: International Friendly – Ethiopia v Uganda Cranes – Hawassa International stadium
  • June 6,  2017: International Friendly – Senegal v Uganda Cranes – Dakar
  • June 10,  2017: AFCON 2019 qualifier (Group L): Cape Verde v Uganda Cranes – Estádio da Várzea, Praia City

UGANDA, AFCON schedule:

June 5-13, 2017: Cape Verde v Uganda

March 19-27, 2018: Uganda v Tanzania

September 3-11, 2018: Uganda v Lesotho

September 3-11, 2018: Lesotho v Uganda

October 8-16, 2018: Uganda v Cape Verde

November 5-11, 2018: Tanzania v Uganda

Africa, Fifa ranking:

20 – Egypt

27 – Senegal

32 – Cameroon

38 – Nigeria

39 – Congo Kinshasa

41- Tunisia

41- Burkina Faso

47 – Cote d’Ivoire

49 – Ghana

53 – Algeria

56 – Morocco

65 – South Africa

66 – Mali

71 – *Uganda

72 – Guinea

74 – *Kenya

81- Benin

84 – Cape Verde

85 – Congo Brazzaville

86 – Gabon

90 – Swaziland

92 – Libya

94 – Namibia

97 – Madagascar

99 – Zambia

103 – Guinea Bissau

104 – Mauritania

106 – Mozambique

109 – Equatorial Guinea

112 – Togo

113 – Sierra Leone

115 – Zimbabwe

117 – Malawi

121 – Botswana

125 – *Ethiopia

128 – *Rwanda

129 – Central African Republic

130 – Niger

139 – Tanzania

140 – Lesotho

141 – Angola

144 – Comoros

147 – *South Sudan

148 – *Burundi

150 – Mauritius

151 – Liberia

154 – Chad

158 – *Sudan

167 –  The Gambia

-Additional reporting by Correspondents and cafonline.com