Late call-ups, unregistered players in camp: Will Harambee Stars pay the price against Ivory Coast?

© FKF Media.

Late call-ups, unregistered players in camp: Will Harambee Stars pay the price against Ivory Coast?

Joel Omotto 06:10 - 11.06.2024

Kenya have not enjoyed good preparations for their clash against Ivory Coast with several late call-ups plus players without necessary documents which could prove costly on Tuesday.

Harambee Stars have not experienced the best possible conditions ahead of their 2026 World Cup qualifier against Ivory Coast on Tuesday.

With a test against African champions next, coach Engin Firat has had to chop and change, what with players in camp who lack requisite documents while some have been called up late even when they were not initially part of the plan.

Firat lamented how an administrative oversight denied him an opportunity to field new call-ups Zak Vyner and Tobias Knost in Friday’s 1-1 draw against Burundi, with the former eventually leaving camp on Sunday to return to the United Kingdom, over failure to secure a Kenyan passport.

New call-ups without requisite documents

"We have five or six players who are injured, but today, three players who were not injured also missed out due to some mistakes that were done," a frustrated Firat said on Friday after the match.

"We did all our tactical training with Zak Vyner. If Zak had been on the field today, we would have won. Sometimes people need to focus less on what's happening on the field and more on doing their jobs properly. Things that seem simple can be very complex here in Kenya.”

That was just part of the problem as even before they left Kenya for Malawi, where the two matches are being played, Eric Johanne had gone missing from camp, necessitating the late call-up of AFC Leopards winger Clifton Miheso.

Several late call-ups with limited time to train

Sofapaka right-back Baron Ochieng would then make a late dash to Lilongwe just before Friday’s match and at the weekend, there were more late call-ups.

Kenya Police duo David Okoth and David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng as well as Malawi-based Clyde Senaji were the late inclusions, the players summoned to Lilongwe just a day before the crucial encounter.

It means they have limited time to catch up with the tactical plan while it will be impossible to build an understanding with those who have been in camp for the last two weeks.

Ivory Coast is not a team you have poor preparations before facing but this is exactly what Kenya have experienced and instead of doing everything to stay in good conditions to get a result, it seems they have set themselves up for a fail.

Ivory Coast is a well-oiled machine

The Ivorians top group F with the maximum nine points and would be out of sight if they get three more against Kenya. Given how good they have been, few would bet against a win for Emerse Fae’s men.

They began their World Cup qualification with a 9-0 thrashing of Seychelles before beating the Gambia 2-0 last November. They would go on to lift the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil before a 1-0 win against Gabon last weekend.

Their record reads; played three, won three, scored 12 and conceded zero.

Do Firat’s men have any chance against such a well-oiled machine given the missteps they have experienced in their build-up? Only time will tell.

Follow us on X (Twitter) for more updates.