Ulinzi coach questions exclusion of keeper Saruni and striker Ochieng from Afcon team

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The omission of Ulinzi Stars goalkeeper and captain James Saruni has left coach Benjamin Nyangweso seething with anger over the selection criteria of the 30-man Harambee Stars squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Saruni has been in a class of his own this season, pulling fine saves in big matches. He also skippered the team to evade the first leg relegation pressure and his omission and inclusion of two custodians from one club have caught many by surprise.

Nyangweso has labelled the decision by coach Sebastien Migne to snub Saruni as unfair if his current form and leadership skills are anything to go by.

Migne demonstrated his faith in first choice goalkeeper Patrick Matasi and his preferred second choice Farouk Shikalo and the Kariobangi Sharks duo of John Oyemba and Brian Bwire in the goalkeeping department. The inclusion of the latter generated a public uproar as the club has hardly kept clean sheets and the two have not had playing time consistently.

The league-winning coach questioned the selection criteria which he termed as career-threatening one as it is likely to demoralise deserving players who were left out. He said: “It’s unfair for Saruni to be left out in the provisional team. They have their own method of gauging and selecting players but I think it was an unfair decision.

He is on form and his contribution has been there for all to see and I wonder how he was overlooked. This was the right time for him to don in Stars colours and I feel the latest move is likely to demoralise him and other deserving players who were snubbed.”

Nyangweso also questioned Migne’s move to leave behind the club’s leading top scorer Enosh Ochieng who has hit the mark 16 times in the league. Ochieng has been a reliable goal poacher for the soldiers and was expected to make his debut in the Afcon-bound team but instead, Migne drafted him into the Chan squad.

“When you are selecting strikers, you check who has been consistent in his job and Ochieng has already proved himself. He is the second best in the league and two goals shy of the leading scorer and honestly, he deserved to be in the team even if they would have dropped him later. He is not the best in the country or better than those called but his numbers and form would have guaranteed him a place in the team. I have nothing against the national team head coach or his the entire technical bench or the players selected. We have to rally behind the team and hope that they will reap positive results in the finals.”

 

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