Okumbi wants win as Stars launch Afcon campaign

Okumbi wants win as Stars launch Afcon campaign

Harambee Stars First Coach Stanley Okumbi was all fired up in Freetown on the eve of their 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying opener with hosts Sierra Leone.

Okumbi warned the home team that his charges will settle for no less than a win on Saturday when the two sides clash at the Siaka Stevens Stadium in the capital Freetown.

Okumbi who has overseen a remarkable 11-match unbeaten streak reminded the Stars the importance of picking up quick momentum as they begin the journey whose ultimate destination is Cameroon for the finals.

“Every coach goes to a match to win. I have no much history about Sierra Leone because I have watched them only ones against Ivory Coast. I know it won’t be easy but I believe in my team,” Okumbi charged.

Captain Victor Wanyama was equally confident of the quality in the Kenyan side, albeit the little knowledge of their opponents.

“We are ready for the game but we know it’s going to be a tough one. Our aim is to open the qualifiers on a positive note,” the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder stated.

The team held its first training session on Friday evening at the match venue, a day before the testing Group F clash where they hope to be among the 12 group winners that will qualify along with the best three runners-up to the finals.

Cameroon, who have already qualified by virtue of being hosts, complete the 16-team line-up that will complete in the final.

“They arrived yesterday and the plan was to have them do some light training this morning but they were required for press briefing at the same time.

“They will have a feel of the ground where the match will be played this evening, but it is upon the coach to decide whether they will have another session may be on Saturday morning,” Otieno told Citizen Digital.

Sierra Leone lost 1-0 to Liberia in their build up to the match, while Harambee Stars only planned warm up against Angola was cancelled after the latter opted out earlier this month.

-Probable Starting XI-

Gor Mahia’s Boniface Oluoch is expected to start between the posts, covered by his teammate Musa Mohammed on the right and Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma on the left.

Zesco United’s David ‘Calabar’ Owino and Maritzburg’s Brian Mandela could line up in the central defense with Wanyama and Anthony Akumu playing in the heart of the midfield.

Ayub Timbe of Beijing Renhe and Ulinzi Stars’ Samuel Onyango are the likely candidates for the wings, with Guizhou Zhicheng’s Michael Olunga leading the goal-hunt mission backed by Vassalunda’s Erick Johanna.

Other group members Ghana and Ethiopia clash on Sunday in Kumasi-Ghana.