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Mariga, Gonzales back in Stars for a series of friendlies

Experienced midfielder McDonald Mariga of Spanish club Real Oviedo and CF Fuenlabrada midfielder Ismael Gonzales have been recalled to the national football team Harambee Stars ahead of international friendly matches against Comoros and the Central African Republic later this month.

Also making a comeback in the 24-man squad named by Stars Interim Coach Stanley Okumbi are Gor Mahia’s Francis Kahata, Paul Were of FC Kaisar of Kazakhstan, Johanna Omolo of Belgium’s Cercle Brugge and Ayub Timbe who plies his trade with Chinese outfit Hellogjiang’.

Kahata and Mariga last played for the national team in 2014 during the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier in which Stars breezed over Comoros 2-1 on aggregate to book a second round date with Lesotho who eliminated Kenya.

Johanna Omollo and Ayub Timbe are no strangers to Comoros having netted a goal each in the first and second leg matches during the last meeting against Kenya in 2014.

The surprise exclusions include Gor Mahia goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, Kariobangi Sharks midfielder Ovellah Ochieng and former Gor defender Musa Mohammed while the new faces in the team include Eric Kapaito of Kariobangi Sharks, his teammate in goalkeeper John Oyemba and another glove-man Farouk Shikalo from Bandari.

Kenya is scheduled to play Les Coelecantes of Comoros on March 24 before engaging Les Fauves from Central African Republic on March 27 in Marrakech, Morocco. Stars are scheduled to report to residential camp camp in Morocco on March 19.

Meanwhile, national women team Harambee Starlets will play Zambia (She-polopolo) away on March 25 at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe as part of their preparation for their 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifier against Uganda.

“We believe the Zambia friendly will give us the much-needed opportunity to gauge ourselves ahead of our AWCON qualifiers against Uganda,” said Harambee Starlets Head Coach Richard Kanyi.

Starlets are scheduled to play Uganda in a two-legged AWCON qualifier beginning at home on April 4 before travelling to Uganda three days later for the second leg.

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