On 1st June, India is going to host the first ever Intercontinental Cup at Mumbai Football Arena. The hosts will face New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and Kenya in this tournament. At first South Africa was opted to be the third team but later Kenya took the spot as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ shifted their focus completely to the KOSAVA Cup which they will host. Their replacements the ‘Harambee stars’ stand 111th in the latest FIFA ranking are set to have a depleted squad for the tournament.
They sufferd the first blow when the Tottenham Hotspur star and Harambe captain Victor Wanyama got ruled out due to a damaged hyaline cartiledge. Hurdles for the newly appointed coach Sebastien Migne did not stop here as later K’Ogalo withdrew his participation from the team besides Boniface Oluoch, Francis Kahata, Philemon Otieno, Joash Onyango, Haron Shakava and Humphrey Mieno. Leopards also recalled Whyvonne Isuza, Marvin Omondi and Jeffery Owiti but allowed Duncan Otieno and Micheal Kibwage to travel with the team to Asia. While the Intercontinental Cup is scheduled to start on 1st June, the Kenyan Super Cup is set to roll from June 3rd, followed by the Shield which compelled the Kenyan clubs to call back their strength.
15 players of the Kenyan squad have boarded the flight yesterday. 6 more players will join them by Friday. But the coach has not joined the squad on their journey to India as he is disgruntled to work with a weakened team.
● Squad Analysis :
Timothy Odhiambo (Ulinzi Stars) will preferably start under the bars. Patrick Matasi (Posta Rangers) and Byrne Omondi (Tusker)
will act as the reserve keepers.
Jockins Atudo (Posta Rangers), Musa Mohammed (Un-attached), Michael Kibwage (AFC Leopards), are the top defenders in the squad. Musa will definitely lead the defence as he is the most experienced man in the team. Bernard Ochieng (Vihiga United), Dennis Odhiambo (Thika United), Johnstone Omurwa (Mathare United), Bolton Omwenga (Kariobangi Sharks) and Erick Ouma (KF Tirana) will provide options in the defence for the Kenyan brigade.
Vincent Wasambo (Kariobangi Sharks) of the sharks is one of the finest Kenyan midfilelders along with Kenneth Muguna (KF Tirana) and Patillah Omotto (Kariobangi Sharks) who will turn to be the playmakers for the team. Chrispin Oduor (Mathare United), Clifton Miheso (Buildcon FC) and Duncan Otieno (AFC Leopards) will be additional backup for the Harambee brigade.
Ovella Ochieng (Kariobangi Sharks), Timothy Otieno (Tusker FC), John Makwatta (Buildcon FC) and Pistone Mutamba (Wazito FC) will bolster the attack.
● Current FIFA Ranking: 111
● Team Rating :
○ Goalkeeping: 4/10
○ Defence: 4.5/10
○ Midfileld: 5/10
○ Forward: 5/10
○ Overall Rating : 4.6/10
○ Jun 2 Kenya vs. New Zealand 20:00
○ Jun 4 India vs. Kenya 20:00
○ Jun 8 Chinese Taipei vs. Kenya 20:00
(All times in IST)
● Recent Form :
Migne had a mixed start with the Kenyan squad as his boys had a 1-0 loss against Swaziland followed by a 1-0 win against Equatorial Guinea. Now the time will tell whether he will join the Kenyan squad before they roll on the ball in the tournament. Mathare United’s Francis Kimanzi has been sounded out by the federation to handle the team in this event.
It’s pretty much a new team that Kenya will field in this tournament compared to their recent matches so the recent form may really not hold much validity.
● Writer’s Take:
It seems that India along with the other two countries will be in a better position to defeat this turmoil bound squad. This Kenya team is not a better option for the host to prepare for the AFC Asian Cup. Though underdogs, the Harambee stars could also turn a threat if they can overcome the discomfort within the squad. As most of the first team players are from Kariobangi Sharks so the club rapport will provide an additional boost to the Kenyans. The fate of the Kenyans will pretty much depend on the opening game against New Zealand. A positive result on the day can set the momentum on if they manage to gel properly overcoming the odds, then the underdogs can well become ‘The team to beat’ in the Intercontinental Cup.