After one year out in the cold, former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech and veteran midfielder Macdonald Mariga have been given a nod ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Zambia.
Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson named Oliech and Mariga in his provisional squad as the national football team prepares for the September 5 match to be played at Nyayo Stadium.
Stars, who started well by holding Equitorial Guinea, will want to do even better while playing at home, and pick maximum points against Zambia.
Williamson, who is currently on holiday in Scotland, said he believes the two players will be key in helping him get desired results.
“I have always said Oliech and Mariga are welcome into the team so long as we feel that there is something they can add. Their experience is invaluable and should inspire the younger players,” Williamson said in a telephone interview from Scotland.
The two last played for Harambee Stars one year ago, but have since been struggling for regular play in their respective clubs.
Oliech is yet to get a club since he left French Ligue One’s Ajaccio about six months ago. He was in Dubai during that period and hopes to sign for a team in the Middle East before the transfer window closes at the end of this month.
On the other hand, Mariga has been struggling for play time at Italy’s relegated side Parma and is unattached at the moment.
Various Serie ‘A’ sides are reported to be interested in his services, though nothing fruitful has come out of it.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chairman Sam Nyamweya defended the move to recall the players, saying the match against Zambia is crucial and the country needs all of its best players.
“This is like a war to us. We must go there with everything we have and I believe the coach is right by recalling the two players. They have done a lot for us in the past and now we need them again,” he said.
Also supporting the move to recall the two players was former national youth chairman Hussein Terry, who said that looking at the trend worldwide, many players are still active until they are 36 years old and the two are no exception.
“I was personally against the idea of overlooking someone like Oliech in previous qualifiers. He still has the energy to play for Harambee Stars and it was therefore wrong to leave him out.
“Furthermore, we have not yet identified a player to replace him and therefore, he should still continue playing. We ought to give him a decent send-off when he is ready to leave,” he said.
Oliech will likely strike alongside youngster Michael Olunga.