Harambee Stars upbeat as coach Kimanzi returns
Rodgers Ndegwa in Kampala
Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi says he is using the Council for East and Central African Football (Cecafa) tournament to try and develop players that will assist the senior team in the upcoming African Cup of Nation (AFCON) and World Cup qualifying matches.
Kimanzi who was speaking to People Sport during the team’s training yesterday at the Namugongo grounds ahead of their semi-final clash against Eritrea this afternoon, said some of the current players would play a big role in aiding the team in their bigger mission which is qualifying for the continental showpiece by creating some competitiveness in key positions in the senior team.
He observed that as a coach he has to look at the next opponents and tactfully select specific players who can do the job in specific matches instead of making comparisons within his own team.
“I think when you have a regional tournament like this, it is good to try and bring in new players to gauge them. So far they are very impressive and matching up to the technical and tactical aspects that we are looking for in them.
We are eager to see how they perform in the semi-final and final stages of this competition and see if they would replicate the same form in the qualifiers,” said Kimanzi after ending his two match ban and will now be eligible to feature in the touch line against Eritrea.
He added: “Out of 10, I would give them a six which means there is a lot of room for improvement before they can join the senior stage, where it will be up to them to prove their worth.”
In regards to whether Samuel Odhiambo who has not conceded a goal in three matches, Kimanzi showered him with praises saying he got what it takes to be between the posts in the senior team.
“Injuries can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. If Brian Bwire hadn’t suffered an injury we could not have given Odhiambo a chance and we could not have known what he is capable of.
He is a good custodian who is really composed, an attribute I have noted and liked about him. The senior team is a vigorous platform where he needs to put in a lot of effort to get the spot,” said Kimanzi.
Kenya will be seeking to beat Eritrea today to reach their second regional final in a row as they seek to defend the title they last won on home soil in 2017.
“We expect a tough match against Eritrea, because they reached this level by merit just like us, every team at this level wants to play the next 90 minutes and I think the lucky and better prepared side will sail through,” said Kimanzi.
Musa Masika who has only played one match in the tournament, against Zanzibar said he is ready to frequently play for the senior team after graduating from the under 23 side.
“I have played against Eritrea in the Cecafa under 20 championship where we beat them 1-0 and I know how they play.
We can easily beat them since they have almost eight players from that junior team who will be playing tomorrow (today),” said Masika.