Many Kenyan football fans have been left scratching their heads after Harambee Stars coach Sebastien Migne named his provisional team of 32 players for the Afcon 2019 tournament on Tuesday.
Migne, to the shock and disbelief of many, omitted free-scoring Zambia-based strike Jesse Were.
No one else but Were can tell what exactly is going on between him and Migne.
The Frenchman for the umpteenth time has omitted Were from the Harambee Stars squad, a decision he defended citing his poor record with the national team.
“For Jesse, he’s never scored many goals for national team. I know he’s the best striker in Zambia but we also have best strikers in Kenya in the list,” said Migne.
True, Were has never scored a goal in Harambee Stars jersey, but you don’t drop a player who has scored over 50 in the Zambian League since 2017.
Fifteen of those goals have been scored this season alone, only second best to Allan Wanga who has 17 KPL goals with Kakamega Homeboyz.
If we are to talk goals alone, Were ranks much higher than Masoud Juma who is yet to score for his Libyan side All Nasr.
But it’s not only Were’s omission from the squad that raised eyebrows.
AFC Leopards defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng was left behind.
Migne also named two goalkeepers from Kariobangi Sharks – John Oyemba and Brian Bwire – whom, besides their not so impressive forms with the mid table Kenyan Premier League side, were also named in the CHAN squad alongside Farouk Shikhalo of Bandari.
For Bwire and Oyemba, Migne left behind James Saruni of Ulinzi Stars, penalty specialist Fredrick Odhiambo of Gor Mahia and Sony Sugar’s Kevin Omondi.
“You create trouble if you have three or four players in the team with experience but they are not happy being on the bench. But if you have someone ready to learn and be there, it is good,” Migne said as he defended the exclusion of Ochieng who moves to the Kenyan Premier League side AFC Leopards after his contracted with Swedish side ended last January.
Among the ‘loyal’ players who are ready to learn under Migne is Bernard Ochieng who picked what looked like a knee injury in the last League match.
His choice in the midfield doesn’t look too bad although some quarters might question the inclusion of China -based Ayub Timbe who is still recovering from a knee injury sustained last December and Vasalunds IF’s Ovella Ochieng.