REVEALED: Why Olunga, Odada and Anyembe were initially left out of the Harambee Stars provisional squad

Richard Odada was among those left out of the provisional squad.

REVEALED: Why Olunga, Odada and Anyembe were initially left out of the Harambee Stars provisional squad

Mark Kinyanjui 14:07 - 21.05.2024

Olunga and other established foreign-based players in the team will link up with the side in Malawi, but why were they initially left out of the provisional Harambee Stars squad?

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat cleared the air on the questions that followed the release of his provisional squad for the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifying matches on Monday afternoon.

Stars are set to host Burundi and Ivory Coast in Malawi on matchdays three and four of the qualifiers rather than Nairobi given the lack of FIFA and CAF-approved stadia in the country on June 7 and 11, respectively.

Given the strong nature of the matches, it was expected that he would name as strong a squad as possible for the qualifiers.

Firat is already facing the headache of missing defenders Joseph Okumu and Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma through injuries. Your eyes would have popped out if you then noticed captain Michael Olunga, midfielder Richard Odada and defender Daniel Anyembe were the three other big names missing from the squad.

Firat has insisted to Pulse Sports that he had given FKF Premier League head Mike Kamure a list of provisional players to report to camp, and not the final list of 23 players travelling to Malawi.

“What happened was that I submitted a squad that would directly come to camp. I told (Michael) Kamure, ‘write down that this is the squad picked for the camp to be held in Kenya’,“ A visibly frustrated Firat said.

“However, those main foreign-based players were not to link up. Not just Michael Olunga, but the other players as well. (Daniel) Anyembe, Richard Odada, Timothy Ouma, Collins Shichenje.

“They will come later because they are still playing for their clubs and will link up with us in Malawi directly. That was the reason.”

Firat did not also spare journalists, accusing some of lying to the public on the situation regarding the players who were missing from the initial list.

“Still, some journalists are saying they were not included. That is a lie. There is a journalist with direct contacts to the Federation. He knows they were not left out but still continues spreading lies without even talking to the players or to me," added the Turkish tactician.

It remains to be seen whether the trio will link up with the team after all. Olunga appeared to aim a dig at the federation after the squad was announced.

There had been speculation that Olunga was left out because of the controversy that followed his team MOFA CF's failure to secure promotion to the National Super League at the expense of Fortune Sacco in the Division One playoff last weekend.

 The club had filed a complaint to the federation about the standards of officiating during the match which led to speculation that bridges might have been burnt.

“The man who wants to lead the orchestra MUST TURN HIS BACK ON THE CROWD,” Olunga wrote on his Facebook Page.