BY STEVE AYOO
Zesco United striker Jesse Were and AFC Leopards defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng’ were perhaps the two notable missing names as Kenya national team boss Sébastien Migne named his provisional squad for the 2019 Africa Nations Cup.
Although the exclusion of Were was perhaps expected due to the striker’s love – but mostly hate – relationship with Stars’ bosses, Cheche’s absence raised more eye brows given the defender’s resurgence since he joined AFC Leopards in mid season, a move he obviously made to boost his chances of a national team call-up.
Cheche’s signing and his subsequent slotting in central midfield at Leopards has played a huge role in turning the club from relegation candidates to mid table contenders.
Paul Were, another player who made a quick move to Leopards to help secure an Afcon spot, succeeded in his quest alongside teammate Wyvonne Isuza who is in a rich form.
Another local-based player who misses the upcoming Afcon flight is KCB FC centerhalf and captain Michael Kibwage who has been rock solid for the Bankers in their return to the topflight.
His consolation is a slot in the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) squad which also includes Kariobangi Sharks forward Duke Abuya, another player who deserved consideration for Afcon duties.
Migne and his technical committee somehow persisted with the inclusion of Masud Juma, a player who has barely played football this year, as well as Clifton Miheso, and, Ovellah Ochieng’, of course.
Juma reportedly joined Libyan Premier League title holders Al Nasr in February 2019 but a thorough check by 442Media revealed no playing statistics for the formers Kariobangi Sharks man.
Sharks, owned by Federation president Nick Mwendwa, had their first and second choice goalkeepers John Oyemba and Brian Bwire called up even though a majority could argue that Ulinzi Stars’ James Saruni has been the second best local keeper behind Bandari FC’s Farouk Shikalo.
The Sharks duo also headline the CHAN squad.
A total of 30 players have been summoned for training from which 26 – which Migne indicates he has an idea of – will be picked ahead of a training camp in France. A further three players will be chopped with the remaining 23 boarding the flight to Egypt.
Kenya, drawn alongside African heavyweights Algeria and Senegal, will be making their first return to the continental showpiece since 2004 when they failed to make it out of the group stages.
Leading them out will be Champions League finalist with Tottenham Victor Wanyama.
Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi (St. Georges, Ethiopia), Faruk Shikhalo (Bandari FC, Kenya), John Oyemba (Kariobangi Sharks, Kenya), Brian Bwire (Kariobangi Sharks)
Defenders: Philemon Otieno (Gor Mahia-Kenya), Musa Mohammed (Nkana FC-Zambia), Joash Onyango (Gor Mahia-Kenya), Abud Omar (Sepsi Sfântu-Romania), David Owino (Zesco United-Zambia), Bernard Ochieng (Vihiga United-Kenya), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United-South Africa), Erick Ouma (Vasalund IF-Sweden), Joseph Okumu
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspurs-England), Anthony Akumu (Zesco United-Zambia), Eric Johanna (IF Bromma-Sweden), Ismael Gonzales (UD Las Palmas-Spain), Francis Kahata (Gor Mahia-Kenya), Dennis Odhiambo (Sofapaka FC-Kenya), Johanna Omollo (Cercle Brugge-Belgium), Christopher Mbamba (Oskarshamns AIK-Sweden), Whyvonne Isuza (AFC Leopards, Kenya), Clifton Miheso (Portugal)
Forwards: Paul Were (AFC Leopards-Kenya), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe-China), Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol-Japan), Allan Wanga (Kakamega Homeboyz-Kenya), John Avire (Sofapaka), Masud Juma (Libya), Ochieng Ovella (IF Vasalund, Sweden)