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Amrouche under fire for omitting top striker

07 May 2014, 08:20

Nairobi - Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche has been forced to defend his selections for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers preliminary round first leg clash against Comoros after omitting the top scorer from the domestic league in the line-up.

The Belgian who opened the training camp for the 17 local players on Tuesday has named in his preliminary line-up for the May 18 clash in Nairobi excluded Sofapaka FC forward, Enock Agwanda, who has plunged in seven goals this season in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).

He selected AFC Leopards duo, Jacob Keli and Allan Wanga who are yet to notch league goals this season whilst Agwanda, 21, notched his seventh KPL strike last Sunday in Sofapaka's entertaining 3-3 draw against Western Stima.

The forward also set up the other two goals in the match becoming the first player in the domestic league to reach the milestone.

Addressing the media on Tuesday, Amrouche stuck to his guns saying he had retained faith in the players that led Kenya to their first title in 11 years when he led the team to win the regional Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup on home soil last December.

"At the moment we want to work with the players we have had and it may not be wise to introduce new players at this time," Amrouche was quoted by Goal website.

"We have had such situations before where you call a player and he does not perform. We want to be careful this time around," he added promising to give the youngster a chance if he continues banging the ball into the net.

The Belgian's move to snub Agwanda came as a surprise since he handed four their maiden call-ups namely; Hillary Otieno (Kariobangi Sharks) and Oliver Kipruto (Ulinzi Stars) in defence as well as Geoffrey Kataka (KRA) and Harrison Mwendwa (Mathare United).

Otieno is the only player from outside the KPL in the team.

At the same time, the Belgian announced Norway based first choice keeper, Arnold Origi, is out of the Comoros tie in Nairobi but will be available for the second leg against the islanders a fortnight after the home tie.

Origi will miss the tie due to league engagements with his Lillestrom side in Norway paving way for AFC Leopards keeper, Wycliffe Kasaya, who has been called-up previously without making the final team to enjoy a first outing with the side.

He also called-up Tusker FC defender, Aboud Omar as cover for the injured Ulinzi Stars regular Mulinge Ndetto who will nonetheless continue training with the squad.

"We will not underrate Comoros since they recently drew with Burkina Faso 1-1 in a friendly. For us, it is taking one game at a time to achieve our first objective of reaching the final group qualifiers," the head coach added.

Kenya has never played Comoros and an aggregate win over the islanders will set up a clash with either Liberia or Lesotho in the next round and should they progress, will join Group C of the Morocco 2015 Afcon final qualifying alongside beaten finalists, Burkina Faso, Angola and Gabon.

- Xinhua

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