Williamson: Don’t blame my goalkeeper
Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson has absolved goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch from the widespread criticism he has received for his performance against Republic of Congo last weekend, saying that the custodian’s jittery performance only tells half the story.
“To be honest I think people like to over emphasize on negativity. He (Oluoch) had a few anxious moments but I didn’t hear anyone talk about the decent saves he made during the match,” Williamson told Daily Nation Sport during Thursday’s training session at the Nairobi City Stadium.
“The public opinion court is always quick to pass reductive judgment but I think Oluoch had a good game considering the fact that he was playing with defenders who were totally unfamiliar to him,” he added.
The national team will continue in their pursuit for success when they face Ethiopia in this weekend’s African Nations Championships (Chan) qualifiers away, and the former Uganda Cranes coach expects Harambee Stars to have an easier time against Ethiopia.
“We have not had much time to prepare for this clash but the Congo game was very useful because I can see that the players have fostered a higher level of cohesion among themselves,” the Scotsman said.
“I don’t know much about the opponent, and it is not easy to win an away match in this continent so we can only put our best performance and hope for a good result,” he added.
Williamson will miss the services of Gor Mahia assistant skipper Musa Mohammed who has been ruled out of the clash with a tender ankle.
The coach however said he has enough defensive options in Lloyd Wahome, Aboud Omar, Edwin Wafula, Jackson Saleh, David Gateri, Brian Birgen and fit again Sammy Mejja.
“It is unfortunate that Musa will not make the trip. He is a quality defender with the necessary experience. However, there are so many other good players in the squad so I see no need in calling up another player,” he said.
Although Ethiopia are ranked 99th in the world football standings, which is 24 places above Kenya Williamson said the statistics will count for nothing during the tie.
A final squad of 20 players will be named ahead of the team’s departure on Friday morning for Addis Ababa after which they will take a connecting flight to north west to Bahir Dar city where the match will be played.
Provisional Stars Squad – Goalkeepers: Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Ian Otieno (Rangers), Boniface Baraza (Rangers), Wycliffe Kasaya (AFC Leopards), Defenders: Edwin Wafula (AFC Leopards), Brian Birgen (Ulinzi Stars), Sammy Mejja (Thika Meja), David Gateri (Bandari), Aboud Omar (Unattached), Jackson Saleh (AFC Leopards), Midfielders: Ali Abondo (Gor Mahia), Kevin Kimani (Tusker), Collins Okoth (Gor Mahia), Humphrey Mieno (Tusker), Anthony Ndolo (Sofapaka), Bernard Mang’oli, Timonah Wanyonyi (AFC Leopards), Strikers: Michael Olunga (Gor Mahia), Jesse Were (Tusker), Peter Nzuki (Nakumatt), Jacob Keli, Noah Wafula, (AFC Leopards), Eric Johanna (Mathare United)