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Is this the end for Mariga and Oliech?

The subject of Dennis Oliech and MacDonald Mariga’s futures with the national football team has dominated local headlines much more than the two players’ contribution in the past year or so.

What isn’t subject to debate however, is that these two players – once considered the backbone of any Harambee Stars set up and among the most talented footballers to have come out of East Africa – are in the twilight of their illustrious football careers.

So much that even as Kenya prepares to face Zambia in a crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match on Sunday, very few if any, will be shedding tears if either miss out on the match.

Mariga is unavailable anyway, having opted out of this game so “as to concentrate on looking for a new club in Europe”, according to Stars coach Bobby Williamson.

Not very bright prospects for the player given that most European club scout for and sign players who are just making a break through are in the prime of their careers.

INJURY PLAGUED

Mark you this is the second consecutive season the former Inter Milan midfielder has had to begin without a permanent employer.

Mariga’s last impressive appearance for Stars should be against Uganda at home during the 2012 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers – such a long time ago by football standards.

“I have been unlucky lately mostly with injuries, all I need to do is get somewhere competitive and play consistently, then the form will slowly creep back,” Mariga told Nairobi News recently.

On the other hand, Oliech could play a part in the Zambia game. Once a formidable striker, the former Auxerre forward, is currently plying his trade in the Middle East.

In his recent performances, there were clear signs that his raw pace and power was waning. But Oliech is determined to bow out on a high.

“I have two years left in me with the national team,” he recently told Nairobi News.

Only time will determine the fate of these two great Kenyan players.