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Fast rising Leopards’ youngster Otieno dreams big after making Okumbi’s squad

AFC Leopards midfielder Duncan Otieno says he hopes to fight his way towards becoming a regular within the national football team set up.

The 22 year old is eyeing his debut with Harambee Stars, having been selected by coach Stanley Okumbi in a 23-man list of local based players, to compete in Tuesday’s friendly match against Malawi in Machakos.

“Playing for the national team is the first sign that my career is progressing well,” the creative player, who featured for his club at the weekend against Muhoroni at the coast explained.

“Being called up is one thing, playing well and looking to become a regular requires hard work. I am calm. I hope to show this against Malawi.”

Otieno announced his arrival on the local football scene when he starred for Leopards youth team during the U20 Kenyan Premier League championship in 2013.

He enjoyed his breakthrough season in the SportPesa Premier League last season while at Posta Rangers, with impressive performances that caught the eye of current Leopards coach Stewart Hall.

YOUNG PLAYERS

Otieno’s game is premised on awareness in midfield, with shifts in between helping out the defence when his side has lost possession and initiating attacks with defence splitting passes to the strikers, an assignment he exhibited impressively during the league match against Ulinzi Stars two weeks ago.

Still, the youngster has his work cut out, if he hopes to dislodge or play alongside the likes of  captain Victor Wanyama, Johanna Omollo, Anthony Akumu, Ishmael Gonzalez and Osbourne Monday in the senior national team’s central midfield.

“We have handed opportunities to these young players and our feeling is that this can aid in their development and also build their confidence. This gives us a good opportunity to assess the players even as we plan for the future,” said Okumbi.

Otieno has been selected alongside his former colleagues at Rangers namely Geoffrey Kataka, Patrick Matasi, Simon Mbugua and Joackins Atudo, plus fellow newcomers Fredrick Shimonyo, Kennedy Agogo and Collins Odhiambo.

The Kenyan national team will be using this match to prepare the home based squad for next year’s Africa Nations Championship (Chan).

Full Squad – Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi (Posta Rangers), James Saruni (Ulinzi Stars) Defenders: Simon Mbugua and Joackins Atudo (Posta Rangers), Brian Birgen (Ulinzi Stars) Robinson Kamura (AFC Leopards), Pascal Ogweno and Bolton Omwenga (Kariobangi Sharks), Collins Odhiambo (Thika United) Midfielders: Duncan Otieno (AFC Leopards), Victor Majid (Chemelil Sugar), Fredrick Shimonyo (Western Stima), Amos Asembekha (Sony Sugar), Geoffrey Kataka (Posta Rangers), Samuel Onyango (Ulinzi Stars) and Shami Mwinyi (Thika United) Strikers: Morven Otinya (Palos FC), Daniel Mwaura (Mathare United), Masita Masuta (Nzoia Sugar), Chrispinus Onyango (KCB), Calvin Odongo (Kariobangi Sharks), Kennedy Agogo (Western Stima) and Darius Msagaha (Bandari).