Kenya national men’s football team head coach Francis Kimanzi has opened up on how tedious the task of consolidating players to the national team is.
In a statement seen by SPORTS AFRICA , Kimanzi has revealed that the Harambee Stars technical bench has been burning the midnight oil to prepare the side for international duties amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is a difficult situation now but we have been engaging with the players at a personal level. We have also been doing a lot of planning and following up on our scouting database,” Kimanzi is quoted by Football Kenya Federation.
The former Mathare United tactician has been handling Harambee Stars since August 2019, taking over the charges from former French coach Sebastian Migne after acting as his assistant in the 2019 Afcon competitions in Egypt.
“Player selection is never easy, but what counts is the current form,” added coach Kimanzi.
He elaborated that the fact of a player playing in foreign leagues does not dictate his first team calling. He gave the example of Gor Mahia midfield maestro Laurence Juma who has been manning the national team’s midfield, a highly competitive position majorly occupied by foreign based players.
“Take for instance, when Lawrence Juma (Gor Mahia midfielder) was in top form, we picked him into the starting team ahead of other foreign players. Playing abroad is secondary to the player’s current form when it comes to selection,” he said.
Kimanzi further advised his men to exercise safety during the ravaging coronavirus pandemic times even as sports activities are gradually picking up from the Covid-19 hiatus.
“Keep safe. We need you healthy, hopefully, when things get back to normal.” He said.
Meanwhile, Harambee Stars was scheduled to take on Comoros in April 2020 in a two-legged Africa Cup of Nations qualifier before the coronavirus outbreak.
Kimanzi had led the side to an impressive 1-1 draw against the North African giants, Egypt in the first leg, before playing out a 1-1 draw against Togo at home.
However, the next episode of Afcon tournament has since been postponed to January 2022 thanks to coronavirus disruptions.
Kenya is also seeking a 2022 Fifa World Cup ticket. Harambee Stars will be battling it out in the World Cup qualifiers against Mali, Rwanda and Uganda.