Kenya’s World Cup hopes dented as injuries plague squad

Kenya’s quest for a maiden World Cup appearance faces a hurdle as injuries sideline key players ahead of their upcoming qualifiers in Malawi next month.

Coach Engin Firat revealed on Wednesday that up to eight first-team players, including striker Masoud Juma and defenders Dennis Nganga, Eric Ouma, and Joseph Okumu, are unavailable due to injury.

“People talk of Michael Olunga [omitted from the initial squad list],” said Firat, “but there are up to eight players not on the list. I don’t know for sure who will be 100 percent ready.”

However, there’s a positive sign. Captain and top scorer Michael Olunga, who plays for Qatari club Al Duhail, will join the team directly in Malawi, bypassing the initial travel plans.

The qualifiers against Burundi on June 7th and Ivory Coast, the reigning African champions, on June 11th, hold immense importance for Kenya.

Adding to the challenges, Kenya is forced to play their “home” matches in Malawi due to the unavailability of FIFA-approved stadiums in Kenya, currently under renovation for the upcoming African Nations Championships (CHAN) and Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Despite the setbacks, Kenya sits third in Group F with three points after their opening qualifiers against Gabon and Seychelles.

Ivory Coast and Gabon share the top spot with six points each. Only the group winner qualifies directly for the 2026 World Cup, while the runner-up enters the play-offs.

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