October 22, 2021

Afcon Qualifier: Kenya’s Olunga, Onyango, two others Covid-19 positive ahead of Togo tie – report

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As a result, James Saruni and Clyde Senaji have been included in the Harambee Stars squad to play the Sparrowhawks

Four Harambee Stars players have reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations Group G qualifier against Togo at Kegue Stadium in Lome on Monday evening.

Unconfirmed reports indicate Al-Duhail striker Michael Olunga, Simba SC defender Joash Onyango, Zesco United goalkeeper Ian Otieno, and Sofapaka midfielder Lawrence Juma have tested Covid-19 positive and as a result, they have not been included in the squad to play the Sparrowhawks.

Subsequently, Ulinzi Stars custodian James Saruni will start in goal while Clyde Senaji takes Onyango’s place in defence alongside KCB’s Nahashon Alembi.

In midfield, Duke Abuya replaces Juma while Masud Juma, who will captain the team, will be the lone striker. Goal‘s efforts to get clarification from the Football Kenya Federation on the situation were fruitless. 

Kenya will be playing Togo in Group G’s dead-rubber hoping to win or at least draw to finish the campaign on a high. Egypt and Comoros have already sealed their place in the finals to be held in Cameroon.

In the last meeting at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Johanna Omolo – who is not part of the current squad – scored for the then Francis Kimanzi-led Stars before Hakim Oura-Sama equalised for the visitors to ensure the spoils were shared.

In an initial interview, head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee had explained why it is important for the team to get a win.

“We have prepared well to play Togo, of course, they are not an easy side, we drew against them in Nairobi,” Mulee told Goal.

“We are playing our last game [in Group G] and it is an important game which we are not thinking about losing since we want to finish the campaign in the third position.  

“So we are taking the game with all the seriousness it deserves; we believe we can pick up from where we left in Nairobi [after drawing 1-1 with Egypt].

With the World Cup qualifiers around the comer, Mulee believes the game away to the Sparrowhawks gives him a head start considering several players in the squad are new.

“We will not take the game casually because every game has its own merits,” the tactician continued.

“It decides where we go from here because the World Cup qualifiers are coming so it is an indication of what the future holds for us. I mean we are a new team and I believe they will be able to live up to the expectations in the game on Monday.”

Kenya XI: James Saruni, Daniel Sakari, Nahashon Alembi, Clyde Senaji, Eric Ouma, Duke Abuya, Duncan Otieno, Abdalla Hassan, Kevin Kimani, Cliffton Miheso, Masud Juma.

Subs: Joseph Okoth, Baraka Badi, Harun Mwale, David Owino, Cliff Nyakeya, Kevin Simiyu, Elvis Rupia.