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Wanyama back in training, eyes Afcon qualifier for Stars

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama has resumed training with the English Premier League side and is a probable starter for Harambee Stars in the Group F 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Ghana’s Black Stars in Kasarani on September 8.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa said he has been made to understand that the Stars skipper, who had been nursing a knee injury, is training with Mauricio Pochettino’s first team, adding that it could be an indication that he has recuperated ahead of the AFCON qualifier.

“I gather that Wanyama is training with Tottenham and it’s the discretion of the Stars coach Migne (Sebastien) to ascertain whether he is fit or not to feature in the Ghana game. Wanyama has been an integral part of Kenya’s national team and we all hope that he is fully fit to serve it in the upcoming game crucial game,” said Mwendwa.

The eccentric midfielder has been grappling with a nagging knee injury which he sustained during Spurs’ pre-season and has missed two Premier League matches involving the London-based club.

In the meantime, Stars will play Black Stars without the services of two professional players in offensive midfielder Ayub Timbe and Brian Mandela who are both suspended for the match.

Timbe, who is based in China, is serving a three-game ban imposed by Confederation of African Football (CAF) over disciplinary issues during the opening game of the qualifiers against Sierra Leone at Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown on June 10, 2017.  On the other hand, Mandela who turns out for Maritzburg of South Africa is ineligible to play after earning a straight red card for a harsh tackle on a Sierra Leonean striker five minutes before half-time in the same game.

Nick Mwendwa has made a clarion call for Kenyan football fans to rally behind Stars in the team’s quest to book a place in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, adding that preparations for the match are in top gear.

“I am thus calling out on fans to turn out in large numbers and cheer Stars and this way, it will inspire the team in its journey of seeking for AFCON qualification,” said Mwendwa.

Stars’ locally-based players will proceed to residential camp on Sunday at a yet, to, be confirmed venue and shall be joined by the foreign legion 24 hours later.

Ghana head coach Kwesi Appiah has named an-all foreign-based squad for the match which include stars like Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid, Kwasi Okyere of Bayern Munich and New Castle midfielder Christain Atsu.

Ghana who top Group “F” are expected to pitch camp in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from where the 23-man squad will fly directly to Nairobi for the game against Kenya.