National football team Harambee Stars left the country yesterday for a series of international friendly build-up matches in Mumbai, India, without head coach Sebastian Migne.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa was quick to allay fears that the French tactician snubbed the trip due to frustrations after Gor Mahia players who make the bulk of the team, and AFC Leopards stars withdrew from the side, making it weak with new inexperienced players.
Local league champions Gor, who had a mid-week league fixture against Sony Sugar in Kisumu yesterday, withdrew eight of their players from the national side to honour the Sony duel. They included Harun Shakava, Joash Onyango, Humphrey Mieno, Francis Kahata, Philemon Otieno, Francis Kahata, George Odhiambo and Boniface Oluoch.
“Migne is from France and it requires five days to prepare a visa for a French national to India, unlike Kenyans who only need two. That is why Migne and some of his technical staff from France were left behind,” Mwendwa told People Sports.
He added: “Their visas will be ready on Friday morning and they will take the next available flight to India to reach Mumbai in time for the team’s Saturday match against the hosts. While Migne is away, assistant coach Francis Kimanzi, who traveled with the team, will be in charge.”
Youthful Tusker FC goalkeeper Byrne Omondi and Vihiga United captain
Bernard Ochieng’ are among new faces in the squad that flew to India yesterday for the four-nation Intercontinental Cup which kicks off in Mumbai this weekend.
Migné has included experienced duo of Cliffton Miheso and John Mark Makwatta both who ply their trade with Buildcon FC of Zambia.
The first batch of 15 players departed yesterday and the second composed of six is expected to leave today.
Most of the players in the team featured prominently during the just-concluded friendly matches against Swaziland and Equatorial Guinea in
Machakos and Migne will use the tournament in India to gauge them more ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations match against Ghana in September.
Stars will take on New Zealand on June 2 before facing hosts India two days later. The third match will pit them against Chinese Taipei on June 8.