Gor Mahia coach Hassan Oktay is the latest tactician to throw his weight behind the inclusion of Zesco United forward Jesse Were in the Harambee Stars Africa Cup of Nations-bound squad.
Were was left behind when coach Sebastien Migne named his provisional squad last week, citing that the striker had gone for 26 international matches without a goal to his name but Oktay feels his performance at club level is enough to warrant him a slot in the national team.
Oktay also believes that his duo of Kenneth Muguna and Haroun Shakava would have been considered if their displays at Gor Mahia is anything go by. Muguna, who had a sluggish start of life in his return to the local flight after nearly a disastrous stay in Albania, has been a key figure in Gor’s midfield and Oktay reckons that his form would have commanded a place in Migne’s team.
Similarly, Shakava has skippered the club to their unprecedented 18th league title and a quarterfinal finish in the Caf Confederations Cup leaving his coach to label him as one of the best defenders in the country. Muguna was named in the Chan provisional squad.
“When selecting players it is important to gauge their form. The coach should have considered purely on form players for the tournament. I believe Muguna and Shakava would have made it to the team courtesy of their scintillating club form. I am not alleging so just because they are my players. Their contribution has been there for all to see. Muguna has been good in the midfield while Shakava is one of the best defenders we have around. The coach should have also summoned the Zambian-based striker.”
Asked about Kenya’s chances in Egypt, Oktay said a win in the opening Group ‘C’ match against Algeria is all what Stars’ need to sail to the group stages.
The Cypriot coach insinuates that a win in the opening match is vital—sentiments earlier shared by former Stars captain and Gor Mahia striker Dennis Oliech who challenged the team to avoid losing the opener by all means.
“I wish the team all the best but it’s going to be difficult. The tournament has several teams with World Cup experience but Stars can pull through if they win the first match. It’s always important, to begin with, a win and should they make it then they will qualify to the next round.”