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Cecafa U23 Championship: Why cautious Okumbi appreciates Gor Mahia, Tusker ahead of tournament

The team started training in Nairobi with players, especially from sides that are in a tight race to secure the top-flight trophy

Kenya U23 head coach Stanley Okumbi has appreciated the Football Kenya Federation Premier League sides that are challenging for the title for releasing players ahead of the July Cecafa Cup in Ethiopia.

Tusker, KCB and Gor Mahia have allowed their summoned players to join the Emerging Stars’ training camp at Ruaraka despite the crucial club games they have ahead. Okumbi is hopeful that, should he get even half of the players he called up, then Kenya will challenge for the trophy in Bahir Dar in northern Ethiopia between July 3 and 18.

“Of course, I can’t say we’re fine because we’re missing a few players who haven’t been released by their clubs. We are still negotiating with the clubs to see if they can be released to join the rest, but we are happy some clubs agreed to our request to let the players begin their preparations,” Okumbi told the media.

“Some of the teams have agreed to let their players come and train despite the fact that they are challenging for the league. Tusker, KCB and Gor Mahia are the sides that have given their stars permission despite the critical games they have as far as the league race is concerned.

“We stand a chance especially if I get the players that I summoned. I am missing about 18 players that I have on my list and if I get even half of them, then I can say we stand a chance of doing a good job.”

On his part, Gor Mahia’s Benson Omala revealed what his target is for the remaining part of the season and in the regional tournament.

“I want to restrategize and, hopefully, I will score goals in the remaining games in the league. I also want to do a good job with the Emerging Stars by scoring goals,” the former Western Stima starlet said.

“We can compete in the region, especially with the quality that I have seen, despite the fact that it is our first day on the training ground.”

Emerging Stars Squad

Goalkeepers: Brian Bwire (Kariobangi Sharks), Caleb Otieno (Gor Mahia), Dolph Junior Owino (Nairobi Stima)

Defenders: Jimmy Ndungi (Tusker), Portipher Odhiambo (Vihiga Bullets), Silvester Owino (Kakamega Homeboyz), Moses Mudavadi (Nzoia), Collins Shichenje (AFC Leopards), Boniface Mwangemi (Kariobangi Sharks), Yussuf Mainge (AFC Leopards), Fredrick Alushula (Kariobangi Sharks), Brian Wepo (KCB).

Midfielders: Joshua Nyatini (Posta Rangers), Marvin Nabwire (AFC Leopards), Sven Yidah (Nairobi City Stars), Vincent Wasambo (KCB), Faraj Ominde (Tusker), Reagan Otieno (KCB), Oliver Maloba (Nairobi City Stars), Peter Thiong’o (AFC Leopards), Francis Mwangi (Mwatate United), Ambrose Sifuna (Sofapaka), Josephat Lopaga (Posta Rangers), Steiner Musasia (Posta Rangers), John Njuguna (Ulinzi Stars), Dennis Musamali (Nzoia Sugar), Elisha Wekesa (Nzoia Sugar)

Forwards: Benson Omalla (Gor Mahia), Henry Meja (Tusker), Sydney Lokale (Kariobangi Sharks), Ken Wanyonyi (Bungoma Superstars), Alfred Tanui (Kisumu All-Stars).

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