Kenya Firat defends decision to omit Austin Odhiambo from Kenya squad

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has defended his decision not to hand Gor Mahia midfielder Austin Odhiambo a chance in the squad travelling for the Four-Nations tournament in Lilongwe, Malawi.

While naming his provisional squad for the tournament which falls under the FIFA international break, the 54-year-old Turkish tactician overlooked Odhiambo, who has been in great form for reigning champions Gor Mahia in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League.

His omission sparked debate among Kenyan fans, with a section disagreeing with Firat’s decision. However, speaking ahead of the team’s departure to Malawi, Firat explained the Gor Mahia player had feigned sickness during the September international break but went ahead to play for his team in a friendly.

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“It is very simple with Austin (Odhiambo), very simple. Last September he was in camp here with Stanley Wilson also. So, what happened is we couldn’t fix the visa for both of them to go to Qatar at the right time,” said Firat, adding: “We were only going to Qatar for two and a half days. So, I told them to stay back in the hotel. We came back, Stanley was already in the hotel but there was no sign of Austin and nobody could reach him. His brother Tyson Otieno was already in camp, I asked him where is Austin, and he said he didn’t know which is strange.”

Firat continued: “The next day at 2 pm our team manager gets a message from Austin and he says he has malaria and he has started recovering. I wondered [if] he could recover from malaria in two days, it is not easy.”

According to Firat what irked him most was the fact that Odhiambo, despite saying he was sick, went ahead to play for Gor Mahia in a friendly against Mathare United, where he even scored a goal. “So, what happened a few hours later, assistant coach Ken (Odhiambo) came to me and showed me that Austin played in a Gor Mahia friendly and had scored a goal against Mathare. If someone thinks they are very important then I have no problem,” said Firat.

Apart from Kenya, other teams that will participate in the tournament include Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Dennis Mabuka

Dennis Mabuka is a seasoned Kenyan journalist with 18 years of experience covering sports events. He is currently a sport content creator with

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