What Harambee Stars will miss with Omala's drop

FOOTBALL What Harambee Stars will miss with Omala's drop

Kiplagat Sang • 18:39 - 24.03.2023

The in-form striker has been surprisingly dropped ahead of the upcoming Iran friendly.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat trimmed his squad that will face Iran in an international friendly on Tuesday, March 28.

His final list, just like when he revealed his provisional squad, has generated a heated debate among the Harambee Stars fans.

When he revealed the initial squad, big names such as Victor Wanyama, Joash Onyango, and Dennis Nga'ng'a were missing. This generated an intense debate as fans questioned the exclusion of some players despite enjoying an impressive season.

Now, Benson Omala, the Football Kenya Federation Premier League's top scorer with 19 goals from 20 games, has been dropped.

Questions have been asked: What criteria has Firat used? What has disqualified the in-form Gor Mahia striker?

What is the competitive advantage that Alfred Scriven possesses over Omala? What was the strategy used to stick with Kenya Police FC’s Elvis Rupia, who is second in the FKF Premier League Golden Boot race?

Having Michael Olunga and Omala in the Stars’ camp was seen as a perfect opportunity for the latter to learn from the established Kenya captain.

Recently, while asking for time to build a competitive team for the future, Firat slammed Kenyans for being overly obsessed with results.

The former Moldova head coach needs time to build a better team and wants the fans to give him time, but his omission of Omala, a future key striker for Harambee Stars, should he maintain his good form, calls into question his emphasis on being given time to build a team for the future from the available youngsters.

The exclusion of the former Kisumu Day striker could end up demoralizing players who are striving to make their names in the local leagues with the hope of getting national team call-ups.

The latest drop of the promising striker drives many to recall how Jesse Were – a former KPL Golden Boot winner – was kept away from Harambee Stars by one coach after another.

Were, who after conquering the KPL landscape went ahead to establish himself as Zesco United’s legend after helping the Ndola-based giants establish themselves as Zambian heavyweights, was always an absentee while other strikers – considered low-key – were regularly called up.

Others might want to excuse Firat and claim that the local scene is not a competitive league that can reliably feed Harambee Stars.

However, when Harambee Stars were a competitive side in the late 1970s and in the 1980s through the early 1990s, they relied mostly on local based stars.

Mickey Weche, Mohamed Abbas, Wilberforce ‘Maradona’ Mulamba, John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla, Peter Dawo, Austin Oduor, and Abdalla Shebe, just to name a few, carried the Kenyan flag high enough to be recoginsed in the region and to some extent in Africa.

Even in the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations squad, head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, who himself honed his coaching skills in the Kenyan football terrain – had a number of local players in the squad.

Francis Onyiso of Ulinzi Stars, Issa Kassim of Mumias Sugar, Anthony Mathenge, and James Omondi of Thika United, and Mathare United’s quartet of Titus Mualama, Adam Shaban, Walter Odede, and Duncan Ochieng were locally sourced players.

When Kenya returned to the continental competition in 2019, a number of local players were involved.

Patrick Matasi – who stopped Sadio Mane’s penalty during a group encounter, Joash Onyango, and John Avire made their names in Egypt and later secured lucrative deals outside the country.

This shows the Kenyan top tier is a competitive league capable of feeding the national team and producing top talents

Has Omala missed an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the above mentioned retired stars?

Have Harambee Stars missed a golden opportunity to develop a potential lethal striker of the future?

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