Kenya to face Libya without Mariga

Nairobi, Jan 31 (IANS) Kenya will play Libya in Tunis next week minus their midfield maestro McDonald Mariga of Inter Milan.

Head coach James Nandwa confirmed Wednesday that the Inter Milan midfielder's sabbatical from the national team will continue, reports Xinhua.

Mariga last competed for 'Harambee Stars' in 2011 during the qualifying campaign for the Africa Nations Cup that was played in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in Feb 2012.

"We had prepared to welcome him back to the fold but got informed by his club that he got injured in training this week. Of course missing a player of his calibre is a big set-back. Kenya is on the recovery path and for us to get to the point we want we need all our foot soldiers. As it is we have to prepare for life without him and hope he will be available in future," Nandwa said.

The match between Kenya and Libya will be played in Tunis, Tunisia, Feb 6. This is because of security concerns back in Tripoli that the football authorities have not approved of any internationals being played there. FIFA has banned Libya from hosting any international matches.

Even the current Africa Nations Cup finals going on in South Africa were to be staged in Libya but the unrest is a major concern. Libya swapped with South Africa to stage the continent's biggest football extravaganza in 2015.

In the absence of Mariga, Charles Okwemba who turns out for the local club AFC Leopards, has been drafted into the team to bolster the midfield department.

"We have to plan life without Mariga. Okwemba is fit enough to take on that role in the midfield," said Nandwa. The coach has also recalled defender Mulinge Munandi to replace injured Brian Mandela.

There is the return of Clifton Miheso, who missed the last international because he was away in Johannesburg for trials with SuperSport United.

"Good thing is Miheso is back. That offers us options and competition in the squad. I will also consider Paul Were and Kevin Omondi," said Nandwa.

The team starts training in Nairobi Thursday. Already Tanzania based Joakins Atudo and Humphrey Mieno as well as David Gateri who plays in South Africa are in the country. All the European based players led by captain Denis Oliech, Victor Mugubi Wanyama, Ayub Timbe, Arnold Origi will fly straight to Tunis from Europe after league assignments.

Libya are using the match as preparations for their FIFA 2013 World Cup qualifiers where they are grouped together with Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Togo.

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