Harambee Stars’ defender Joseph Okumu has voiced a commitment to their fans who have endured a prolonged two-year drought of live matches since the impasse that transpired in November 2021.
From the heart of Doha, Qatar, where they are primed to engage with the 2022 World Cup hosts in a high-stakes friendly match on Thursday, September 7, 2023, before their imminent clash with South Sudan in Nairobi, Okumu expressed their resolve to bestow a spectacle upon their supporters.
“I think it will be interesting to play back at home and also to give something to the fans because it has been way too long since they came to the stadium to see their national team play,” Okumu said.
The 26-year-old towering center-back, having recently sealed a transfer deal from the Belgian outfit KAA Gent to Stade Reims in the illustrious French Ligue 1, now follows in the esteemed footsteps of former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech as the second Kenyan to make a mark in the esteemed league.
As Kenya aspires to secure its maiden berth in the coveted World Cup, Joseph Okumu stands as a stalwart among the ranks of players entrusted with this monumental task by Head Coach Engin Firat.
The defender, cognizant of the magnitude of the challenge, underscores the critical value of these friendly matches in the team’s preparations.
“It is important because it will prepare us well enough to tackle the qualifiers, bring up the confidence, and gauge ourselves too,” Okumu articulated with unwavering conviction.
Harambee Stars are in Group F for the Africa World Cup qualifiers, alongside Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Burundi, and Seychelles.
They are set to commence their qualifying campaign with an away match against Gabon on November 13, followed by a trip to Seychelles a week later.
In June 2024, Kenya will host both Burundi and Ivory Coast, matches that are likely to be staged in another country.
Harambee Stars will now have to host their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers away from Kenya after the country was found to have substandard stadiums for such matches.