Kenya:Injury Woe Hit Harambee Stars Ahead of World Cup Qualifiers

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~ Provisional squad of local-based players to begin preparations

~ Notable absentees

~ Scramble for 2026 FIFA World Cup

Kenya’s national football team, Harambee Stars, has faced a significant setback ahead of their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches as four key players, including defender Joseph Okumu, are ruled out of the crucial fixtures against Burundi and Ivory Coast in June. The absence of these key players has raised concerns about the team’s preparedness and prospects in the upcoming qualifiers.

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Local-based players to start early preparation

Head coach Engin Firat announced on Monday that a provisional squad of 25 local-based players has been selected to begin preparations for the decisive matches scheduled to take place at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi, on June 8th and 11th, respectively. With the absence of key players, Firat faces the challenge of reshuffling the team and ensuring that the replacements can step up and deliver in the absence of their star teammates.


One of the notable absentees is Joseph Okumu, a defender who plies his trade with Ligue 1 side Reims FC. Okumu’s defensive prowess and leadership at the back will be sorely missed in the upcoming matches. The loss of striker Masoud Juma, who has been a key attacking threat for the team, further weakens Harambee Stars’ frontline.

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Additionally, the absence of Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma, who plays for Ekstraklasa club Rakow Częstochowa, and Zambian-based Dennis Nganga further depletes the team’s overall strength and experience. These players bring a wealth of skill and international experience to the team, and their absence will undoubtedly be felt in the upcoming fixtures.

The unavailability of these key players poses a significant challenge for coach Firat, as he must now regroup and make tactical adjustments to compensate for their absence. The reliance will now fall on the local-based players who have been called up to step up and make an impact on the team’s performance in the World Cup qualifiers.

Bid to secure 2026 FIFA World Cup slot

As Harambee Stars strive to secure their place in the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the absence of key players adds a layer of uncertainty to their campaign. The upcoming qualifiers against tough opponents such as Burundi and Ivory Coast will test the team’s depth and resilience. The onus is now on the remaining squad members to rise to the occasion and demonstrate their capabilities on the international stage.

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The setback faced by Harambee Stars with the absence of key players highlights the challenges and uncertainties that national teams often encounter in their quest for World Cup qualification. The upcoming fixtures will serve as a test of character for the team as they look to overcome adversity and continue their pursuit of a spot in the prestigious tournament.

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