The international friendly match between an under-23 Harambee Stars side and a developmental Botswana outfit to be played on July 12, 2012 from 6pm at Nyayo Stadium has generated plenty of talking points, and not on the clash itself.
The most prominent was Rama Salim’s availability. The up and coming Gor Mahia midfielder was dramatically removed from a Stars training session Wednesday morning at Nyayo Stadium by his no-nonsense club coach Zdravko Logarusic. An apparently incensed Logarusic stormed the Stars training session and ejected the rising star saying Gor had not released him to train with the national team.
“I have never seen such a thing. What he did was not good. He said the player was injured but we saw nothing wrong with him. I later talked to our chairman (Sam Nyamweya) who talked to Gor Mahia officials over the matter,” Kenya U-23 coach James Nandwa said.
Nandwa said Salim was still part of his plans and he hoped to field him on Thursday despite the “few disappointments” in preparing the team. A day earlier Gor had threatened not to release their four players called up barely 24 hours after AFC Leopards had said an emphatic no to their five players over club commitments.
Game outside Fifa calendar
This is certainly a club versus country issue. “This is a good test for our under-23 players but it is just a friendly match outside the Fifa calendar. The clubs are not obligated to release their players,” KPL chief officer said.
Meanwhile, the federation has not been sure what to call this national team. First, in reference to their communication releasing the provisional squad, the federation called the team national under-23.
FKF media office John Kariuki later clarified the match was a full international and the Kenya team was Stars. Whatever the name, the home side featuring under-23 players will face an acid test against a team that participated in this year’s African Cup of Nations held in January. The Zebras have four players from the team that played in the African finals.