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Williamson upbeat as Kenya take battle to Ethiopia

Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson will be motivated by the prospects of becoming the first tactician to guide Harambee Stars to the African Nations Champions (Chan) finals when the qualifiers begin this weekend.

Kenya collide with hosts Ethiopia on Sunday in their first round, first leg tie at the Bahir Dar Stadium, in Bahir city, situated to the northwest of Ethiopia.

The second leg will be played in Nairobi in two weeks’ time with the winner advancing to the second and final round of qualifications to the 2016 finals in Rwanda.

A squad of 20 left the county on Friday morning aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight.

Williamson, who formerly coached Uganda Cranes, will be keen to get a favourable result in Ethiopia to bolster his hopes of completing the job in Nairobi.

Speaking to the Daily Nation Sport this week, the Scot scolded the media for dwelling on the weakness of the team rather than the positives.

He also launched a robust defence of his goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch who came under the microscopic following a nervous display against Congo in Owando, last weekend, in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

ANXIOUS MOMENTS

“We want to do well there (in Ethiopia). It’s never easy playing away but we have to give our best. But to be honest, I think people like to overemphasize 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,” he said.

“The public opinion is always quick to pass reductive judgment but I think Oluoch had a good game (against Congo) considering the fact that he was playing with defenders who were totally unfamiliar to him,” he added.

Williamson has unshakable faith in the custodian’s abilities and Oluoch, is once again tipped to retain his position between the sticks ahead of maverick Wycliffe Kasaya, who this week moved to Football Kenyan Premier League side Nakumatt.

“I’m used to the criticism because the media can at one time build you or destroy you,” Oluoch said.

Stars defence is likely to be manned by roving Aboud Omar, Edwin Wafula, Llyod Wahome and Charles Odette.

Jackson Saleh, who conceded a penalty in Congo is a likely starter on the bench. Jacob Keli and Michael Olunga could be preferred in a two-prong attack.

Williamson’s preference of a 4-4-2 formation could see him field Collins Okoth, Humphrey Mieno, Ali Abondo and Eric Johanna in midfield.