Thirty-nine players have been dropped from the 57 called up for trials of the national Under-23 team slots as Kenya’s first attempt at qualifying the football side for the Olympic Games gathers pace.
The team (Emerging Stars) will host Mauritius on November 14 in the preliminary round then travel away for the second leg four days later.
The preliminary rounds will culminate into a tournament in Egypt where the continents best will emerge to represent Africa in Tokyo, Japan for the 2020 Games.
Mathare United coach Francis Kimanzi, with the aid of Harambee Stars technical bench led by Sebastian Migne trimmed the team to 18 with four unnamed foreign-based players expected to link up ahead of the November 14 qualifier.
“We are here to select the U23 team to face Mauritius in the U23 Afcon qualifiers,” said Kimanzi. “It was quite challenging because we had quality players in each and every position, but alongside my technical bench as well as the senior national team coach (Sébastien Migné) and his assistant (Nicolas Borriquet-Cor) we have come up with 18 players who will hit camp next week,” he added.
Kariobangi Sharks third-choice goalkeeper and senior team trialist Brian Bwire is in contention to start in goal for the Emerging Stars alongside Ulinzi Stars’ Timothy Odhiambo. Sony Sugar’s talented custodian Kelvin Omondi was axed from the final squad, leaving Bwire and Odhiambo as the only goalkeepers.
The culling of Omondi also sparked social media outcry as the youngster showed grit and bravery to help keep Sony in the top-flight last season.
Mathare trio of Johnston Omurwa, Lennox Ogutu and David Owino made the cut for defenders and will duel for places with new KCB signing Michael Kibwage, AFC Leopards’ Yusuf Mainge and Harun Mwale of Ulinzi Stars.
Sony Sugar midfielder Tobias Omondi and Sofapaka’s highly-rated Teddy Osok lead an impressive cast of youngsters including James Mazembe of Kariobangi Sharks and Chrispinus Onyango of KCB.