Oliech in Harambee Stars U-Turn

Published on 26/02/2009

By Gilbert Wandera

AJ Auxerre striker Dennis Oliech will be available for the World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Tunisia on March 28.

Oliech had indicated a month ago he would not play for the national team after the controversial sacking of former coach Francis Kimanzi.

The Auxerre striker was yesterday named in a 40-man squad to start preparation on Tuesday.

Football Kenya Limited (FKL) Technical Director, Patrick Naggi, said Oliech had confirmed to him he would be available.

“I have spoken to him and he has assured us of his availability for the match,” said Naggi.

The exclusion from the team was Mathare United goalkeeper Duncun Ochieng and Tusker forward Joseph Njuguna. The players were key members of the team as they reached the final of the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup in December.

Naggi did not explain why the two were left out, but justified the large squad by saying it gives the new coach, Antoine Hey, more options to work with.

“Being a new coach, we decided to give him more players so that he can have wider options on who to pick,” said Naggi.

Naggi denied this could interfere with the previous squad which had jelled well during the qualifiers and made it to the last round.

Leading scorer

Yanga striker Boniface Ambani, the leading scorer in Tanzania, makes a comeback as well as team-mate Bernard Mwalala and Hillary Echesa who plays in Vietnam.

Others making a return are goalkeepers, David Okello of Thika United and Wilson Oburu of Sofapaka. Norway-based Arnold Origi has also been called up though he is yet to recover from injury.

Meanwhile former AFC Leopards coach Gilbert Selebwa has backed his former club to beat Gor Mahia on Saturday in the Kenyan Premier League. Selebwa said he held no hard feelings after he was suspended.

“I spent a lot of my time and other resources to help Leopards get to where they are now. I feel the team needs everybody’s support the team. I will be rooting for Leopards to beat Gor because like anybody else we want this team to succeed,” he said.

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