Why expelled duo got recalled to Harambee Stars ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Burundi and Ivory Coast


Why expelled duo got recalled to Harambee Stars ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Burundi and Ivory Coast

Festus Chuma 07:00 - 22.05.2024

Harambee Stars coach reinstated previously disciplined players ahead of critical 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has openly discussed his decision to bring back defender Aboud Omar and forward Eric Johana Omondi to the national team for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. 

This recall comes despite their previous expulsion from the team over a heated exchange during preparations for a Four Nations Tournament in March.

The incident led to their temporary removal, with Firat replacing them with Vincent Mahiga from AFC Leopards and Shariff Musa from Gor Mahia.

However, those substitutes have not been recalled for the upcoming qualifiers signaling a significant shift in Firat's strategy.

Explaining his decision, Firat acknowledged the disciplinary issues but emphasized the players' understanding of national team standards. 

“I was unhappy about their discipline. Nonetheless, they know how to conduct themselves in the national team. I won’t close the door. Now they can show that they deserve to be here," Firat said.

Aboud Omar has already joined the camp, with Eric Johana expected to arrive shortly. 

Their return is timely as Kenya gears up for crucial matches, first against Burundi on June 7, followed by a challenging encounter with the current Africa Cup of Nations champions, Ivory Coast, on June 11.

The stakes are high for the Harambee Stars, currently third in Group F, which also includes Ivory Coast, Gabon, Burundi, The Gambia, and Seychelles. 

With only the group leader guaranteed a spot at the World Cup, and four of the best second-placed teams across nine groups facing a playoff for additional spots, every match counts.

Kenya's journey in the qualifiers started with mixed results, securing three points from their first two games against Gabon and Seychelles. 

The upcoming games are seen as a critical opportunity for the team to improve their standing and boost their chances of reaching the global tournament, set to be hosted across Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

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