Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has confirmed that captain Michael Olunga will be part of the squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Burundi and Ivory Coast.

This announcement comes after Olunga’s initial exclusion from the provisional squad caused widespread uproar among Kenyan football fans and prompted many to question the coach’s decision.

Coach Firat’s Statement

Coach Firat addressed the situation, reassuring fans of Olunga’s inclusion:

“Michael Olunga is an integral part of our team and his experience and skill are invaluable. His absence in the provisional list was a miscommunication, and I can confirm he will be with us as we prepare for these crucial matches.”

Squad Preparation & Match Schedule

The team begins their preparations today, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Nairobi. The key qualifiers are scheduled as follows:

Kenya vs. Burundi: June 7, 2024

Kenya vs. Ivory Coast: June 11, 2024

Both matches will be held at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi, due to ongoing renovations at the Nyayo National Stadium and Kasarani Stadium in Kenya.

Significance of Olunga’s Inclusion

Michael Olunga, a prolific striker and captain of the national team, is a crucial figure for Harambee Stars. His presence boosts the team’s morale and adds significant firepower to their attack. Olunga’s recent performances, including his brace that helped Al Duhail progress to the semi-final of the Emir Cup, highlight his form and importance to the squad.

Updated Provisional Squad

The updated squad list now officially includes Michael Olunga:

Goalkeepers

Patrick Matasi (Kenya Police)

Byrne Odhiambo (Bandari)

Boniphas Munyasa (Muranga Seal)

Ian Otieno (Zesco, Zambia)

Defenders

Johnstone Omurwa (Estrela, Portugal)

Alphonse Omija (Dhofar, Oman)

Amos Nondi (Ararat, Armenia)

Brian Okoth (Kenya Police)

Abud Omar (Kenya Police)

Tobias Knost (SV Verl, Germany)

Midfielders

John Ochieng (Zanaco, Zambia)

Eric Johanna (UTA, Romania)

Adam Wilson (Bradford City, England)

Anthony Akumu (Unattached)

Kenneth Muguna (Kenya Police)

Kaycie Odhiambo (AFC Leopards)

Chrispine Erambo (Tusker)

Rooney Onyango (Gor Mahia)

Ayub Timbe (Sabail, Azerbaijan)

Duke Abuya (IHEFU, Tanzania)

Bruce Kamau (Perth Glory, Australia)

Forwards

Michael Olunga (Al Duhail, Qatar)

John Avire (El Sekka El Hadid SC, Egypt)

Austine Odhiambo (Gor Mahia)

Benson Omala (Gor Mahia)

Elvis Rupia (IHEFU, Tanzania)

The confirmation of Michael Olunga’s participation is expected to enhance the team’s performance and hopes for a successful qualification campaign. Fans and the team alike are optimistic and looking forward to the upcoming matches.

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