Kenya’s national men’s football team coach on Tuesday named a provisional squad of 30 players that is expected to travel to France to prepare for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Several players who played during the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers were retained in the squad. Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama will captain the side.
Sebastien Migne told journalists at a press conference in Nairobi that Kenya would not be traveling to Egypt just to make up the numbers at the tournament.
“We’ll not travel to Egypt like a tourist. When you are playing a competition, it is to try to achieve your best and the first target of a player will be qualification for the knockout stage,” Migne said.
Zambia-based forward Jesse Were of Zesco United and AFC Leopards defender David Ochieng were notable omissions from the squad. Migne was blunt in his assessment of why Were was left out.
“Jesse received 26 call-ups already; he never scored one goal in (the) national team. So I know he is the best striker in Zambia but we have, also, the best striker in Kenya in the list. Sometimes you cannot compare the level in Zambia with the level in Japan, China or everywhere,” Migne said.
However, Migne did not rule out a return to international football for Were or any other player omitted from the squad.
Kenya is set to travel to France on May 31 and will stay there until June 18. The team will then depart for Cairo from Paris five days before their opening game against Algeria on June 23.
Migne also said he would request Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia and other clubs to allow their players to be given permission to leave to join the rest of the squad for training.
Kenya is in Group C alongside Senegal, Algeria and Tanzania. The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be held between June 21 and July 19.
Kenya’s 30-man provisional squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi, Faruk Shikhalo, John Oyemba, Brian Bwire.
Defenders: Philemon Otieno, Musa Mohammed, Joash Onyango, Abud Omar, David Owino, Bernard Ochieng, Brian Mandela, Erick Ouma, Joseph Okumu.
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama, Anthony Akumu, Eric Johanna, Ismael Gonzales, Francis Kahata, Dennis Odhiambo, Johanna Omollo, Christopher Mbamba, Whyvonne Isuza, Clifton Miheso.
Forwards: Paul Were, Ayub Timbe, Michael Olunga, Allan Wanga, John Avire, Masud Juma, Ochieng Ovella.