Revealed: Why Gor Mahia's Austin Odhiambo and Bandari's Abdallah Hassan were dropped from Harambee Stars trip to Qatar

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Revealed: Why Gor Mahia's Austin Odhiambo and Bandari's Abdallah Hassan were dropped from Harambee Stars trip to Qatar

Festus Chuma 09:00 - 12.09.2023

Harambee Stars prepare to face South Sudan without the two creative forwards.

The build-up to the eagerly anticipated clash between Harambee Stars and South Sudan has been nothing short of dramatic.

Harambee Stars head coach  Engin Firat has been navigating a maze of issues from lost passports to even a curious case of a player claiming illness while featuring in a club match.

The centerpiece of this pre-match saga was Gor Mahia's talismanic midfielder, Austin Odhiambo. 

Firat had previously vocalized his intention to feature Odhiambo in the Stars' last friendly in Qatar, where Kenya secured a commendable 2-1 victory. 

But things took a peculiar turn when the star midfielder was conspicuously absent from the national team camp this week.

“Before we traveled, we encountered some problems. Abdallah Hassan lost his passport, and we're uncertain if he'll play tomorrow since the issue hasn't been resolved yet,” Firat disclosed, shedding light on Hassan's situation.

However, when speaking about Odhiambo, the narrative takes an unexpected twist. “We would have taken Austin Odhiambo and Stanley Wilson with us to our first match against Qatar, but obtaining a visa at the last moment proved impossible. I had instructed them to join us for training here in Nairobi before we play against South Sudan,” Firat said.

 Just when it seemed the issue was administrative, another revelation adds a layer of complexity to the tale.

“Austin messaged the Team Manager, saying he had contracted malaria. Yet, on that same day, he played for Gor Mahia. But this is Kenya, and such situations are not new to me,” the coach remarked.

David Ochieng, the steadfast defender from Kenya Police FC , is another notable omission, and Firat chose to keep the reasons close to his chest, not revealing why he dropped the experienced defender.

Further adding to the selection woes, speedster Ayub Timbe, a staple in the Stars' lineup, had to rush back to his club in China.

Meanwhile, the versatile Johstone Omurwa flew back to honor his commitments with his club in Portugal.

The array of challenges faced by the national team in the run-up to a critical match underscores the intricate issues that continue to plague football in the region.

 While Kenya boasts a wealth of talent and has continually punched above its weight in the international scene, systemic and logistical problems, along with individual decisions, often cloud the path to consistent success.

But if there is one thing the Harambee Stars are known for, it is their resilience and ability to rally under adversity. 

With the home crowd behind them at the iconic Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani, the Stars will be raring to prove that despite the odds, they remain a force to be reckoned with on the pitch.