Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wanga relishes chance to face Nigeria in World Cup qualifier

AFC Leopards' Allan Wanga, celebrates his goal against Nigeria during their World cup qualifier at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in 2010 when he played for Harambee Stars. PHOTO/ MOHAMMED AMIN/ FILE | NATION

AFC Leopards' Allan Wanga, celebrates his goal against Nigeria during their World cup qualifier at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in 2010 when he played for Harambee Stars. PHOTO/ MOHAMMED AMIN/ FILE | NATION  NATION

By DAVID KWALIMWA [email protected]

AFC Leopards striker Allan Wanga is looking forward to leading Kenya’s attack when Harambee Stars meet the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a crunch 2014 World Cup qualifier in six weeks’ time.

The experienced Kenyan international has been tipped as a likely replacement for Captain Dennis Oliech, who may miss the eagerly-anticipated June 5 match in Nairobi through suspension.

Harambee Stars coach, Adel Amrouche, had in an exclusive interview with the Daily Nation, hinted that he was considering drafting Wanga after watching him score against Kakamega Homeboyz in a league match last week.

“I am happy for Paul Kiongera and Paul Were. They are knocking on the door and have a strong case based on current form. I am also pleased that Wanga scored in a league match the other day.

These are some of the players we will give a chance,” said the Algerian- born Belgium coach.

Wanga remained optimistic that if called upon, he will be adequately prepared for the challenge.

“Playing against Nigeria will be an exciting challenge and I’m happy that the national team coach believes in my abilities,” revealed the striker who has previously turned out for clubs in Angola, Azerbaijan, Oman and Vietnam before returning home.

Oliech and goalkeeper Arnold Origi are likely to sit out during the clash at the 60,000-seater Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

In a letter dated April 4, the world football governing body, Fifa’s disciplinary committee informed Football Kenya Federation (FKF) that the duo would miss the clash.

The letter signed by Deputy Secretary, Thomas Hug, also ‘brought it to the attention of FKF that four Kenyan players, Johanna Omollo, Arnold Origi, Francis Kahata and Dennis Oliech had been yellow-carded during Kenya’s match against Nigeria in Calabar.

“Among these four players, please note Oliech and Origi are not eligible to feature in the subsequent match, having been cautioned in two separate games,” the letter read in part.
The 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying rules state: “A player would be suspended for the subsequent match in the competition for either getting a red card or accumulating two yellow cards in two different matches. Single yellow cards and suspensions for yellow card accumulations do not carry over to the 2014 World Cup tournament matches if a team qualifies.”

Option of petitioning

FKF Chief Executive Officer, Michael Esakwa, however, confirmed that the body had ‘exercised the option’ of petitioning Fifa within two days of receiving the letter.

“Origi has told me that besides the Nigeria caution, he received the other yellow card in the match against Seychelles. To the best of my knowledge, that was a pre-qualifying match. This is one of the issues, I want to clarify,” Esakwa told Daily Nation.

Wanga scored with a bullet header the last time Nigeria played in Nairobi on November 14, 2009 during a 2010 Fifa World Cup qualifier that ended 3-2 in favour of the Nigerians.

”I am upbeat about my prospects of returning to the national squad. I feel much better after fully recovering from an ankle injury that forced me to pass an opportunity to play for Harambee Stars. I am slowly getting back my scoring touch and I should be ready if called up,” he added.

Sofapaka goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng’ and his counterparts Boniface Oluoch (Tusker), Jacktone Odhiambo (Ulinzi) and Patrick Matasi (AFC Leopards) will all be vying to replace Origi between the posts.

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