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Depleted Stars squad to play in Rwanda tourney

A thoroughly depleted Harambee Stars leaves the country on Friday afternoon for Kigali, Rwanda to compete in the Peace Cup tournament that begins on Sunday at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali.

Kenya was invited to take part in the four-nation annual tournament held to commemorate victims of the 1994 genocide, but the technical bench found it impossible to persuade Kenyan Premier League clubs to release players called up by coach Bobby Williamson due to the crucial league matches lined up for the weekend.

As a result Williamson has been forced to travel with only 12 of the 31 players in the squad that is to face Congo in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers next week as all other KPL players chose club duty over the national team duty.

“This tournament is not sanctioned by Fifa and so we cannot force the clubs to release their players. The technical bench felt that the tournament would be an important build up for the Afcon qualifiers but since we are unable to get all the players we shall work with the ones available,” stars assistant coach Musa Otieno told Daily Nation Sport.

Only Stephen Wakhanya of Chemelil Sugar has been given the green light to take part in the competitions, but speaking to Daily Nation Sport, his club chairman Robert Nyakundi expressed displeasure with the federation’s mode of operation.

“When you have to release players now and again it really disrupts your calendar and obviously it will impact on league performance. We have allowed Wakhanya a chance to go but the federation needs to have a more suitable working plan of activities,” he said.

FOREIGN-BASED PLAYERS

His sentiments were echoed by Ulinzi Stars chairman J.S Mwinyikai who said that he declined to release his players because they were not involved at all in the details of the tournament.

“We have a very crucial match at the weekend so how can we release players for an unscheduled tournament? We were never involved in any planning activities for the tournament so there is no way we are going to release our players at the expense of the league,” he said.

Among the players in the Stars’ travelling party are captain Victor Wanyama, defenders David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng and Brian Mandela, midfielders Francis Kahata and Anthony Akumu and strikers Allan Wanga all of whom are foreign-based players.

However, by Thursday evening only Akumu, Wanyama, Kahata, Wanga and Mandela had arrived in the country.

They will be joined by Peter Nzuki (Nakumatt) and Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers) who feature in the Football Kenya Federation Premier league.

The other teams that will participate in the tournament are hosts Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan.

Meanwhile Kenya lost 38 points and dropped six places down to position 123 in the Coca-Cola FIFA rankings released yesterday by the world football governing body.