TM Oyando likely to be on the touch line as Stars return to Cecafa action
Rodgers Ndegwa in Kampala
Making his debut in the Council of Eastern and Central Football Association (Cecafa) Senior Challenge and as the captain of Harambee Stars, Joash Onyango is confident the team will build on their bright start to the campaign and win coveted trophy which they last won in 2017.
Kenya began their title defence on a high on Sunday at the KCCA grounds, here after beating rivals Tanzania 1-0 to pick their revenge after the same opponents knocked them out of the African Nation Championship (CHAN) 2020 qualifiers.
They, however, suffered a setback after tournament organisers slapped Stars’ head coach Francis Kimanzi with a two-match ban together with his assistant Zedekiah Otieno for what Cecafa secretary Nicholas Musonye termed as unprofessional character.
The duo are said to have protested the position of match officials ahead of their tie against Tanzania on Sunday.
They also mobilised players not to honour the tie and in the process delayed the kick-off by 15 minutes despite the fact that the match was to be aired live. They were demanding answers on why three Tanzania players had no valid passports.
The suspensions mean that Team Manager Ronny Oyando and Goalkeeper trainer Lawrence Webo could be the ones on the touch line today.
Sunday’s win saw Stars leap to the top of lead Group B where they have been pulled alongside Sudan and Zanzibar. Stars play Sudan today in their second match of the competition and will face Zanzibar on Saturday.
Onyango, who plays for Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Gor Mahia, believes Sudan, who came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw against Zanzibar, are going to be a tough nut to crack but is confident the squad has got quality players that can get the job done and ensure their qualification to quarter-finals.
“We have come to this tournament to successfully defend the cup and that means winning all the matches including tomorrow’s (today’s). Most of the players in the team are making a debut in this competition including myself and we are eager to prove our worth,” said Onyango.
He added: “Captaining the national team for the first time is big honour and I have been encouraging my team-mates, including our custodian 35-year-old Samuel Odhiambo, who is also taking part in Cecafa for the first time, to take all our matches serious.”