The Harambee Stars has received a major injury boost with return to full training of dependable defender Joash Onyango ahead of their final Group C match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) against Senegal on Monday.
The Gor Mahia stopper picked a toe injury in training just before Stars’ opener against Algeria last week. He further missed Kenya’s famous 3-2 win over neighbors Tanzania on Thursday with youngster Joseph Okumu doing very well to slot in for him.
Ahead of the tournament which Kenya is participating in for the first time in 15 years, Joash and Okumu paired up in central defense in a friendly against the DR Congo in Spain which ended in a 1-1 draw.
With the injury, Harambee Stars coach Sebastien Migne was forced to play Nkana FC defender Musa Mohammed and Okumu at the heart of the defense.
Joash, 26, was a cog in Stars’ qualification phase of the showpiece. He’s well remembered for taking one for the team, picking a red card in Kenya’s 1-0 win against Ghana in Nairobi
Meanwhile, Migne is optimistic of getting a good result against Senegal even as he acknowledges the Lions of Teranga pedigree.
“We know it will be difficult playing against the number one country in Africa (FIFA Rankings). But it was difficult as well when we came up against Ghana during qualification and we won. We can do it,” said coach Sébastien Migné.
The Frenchman hailed his decision to add more firepower against Tanzania to partner Michael Olunga, “I think it was a good decision. It was necessary to add a striker to partner Olunga upfront and Avire coming on gave Olunga much more freedom. Sometimes coaches are afraid of fielding young players in such matches but I’m not,” said Migné.
Kenya have never met Senegal since the 2004 Tunisia AFCON in which they lost 3-0 at the group stage.