With Kenya set to take on Congo in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, head coach Bobby Williamson has opted to rest a number of his squad who play domestically.
Both sides open their Group E campaigns in Brazzaville, hoping to make an ideal start on the road to Gabon 2017.
Kenya have not made it to the finals since 2004, when they exited at the first round, while Congo reached the last eight of this year’s competition, held in Equatorial Guinea.
Coming into the clash on the back of a 2-0 friendly win over South Sudan last weekend, Kenya coach Williamson has left some notable names out of his squad for this encounter.
Kenyan Premier League top scorer Victor Ali Abondo is among those not included, but former Uganda boss Williamson has explained his reasons.
“We have another match in a week’s time after Sunday so we have to balance the team because against Ethiopia [in a friendly], we will not have any of the players who are based outside the country,” he said.
Kenya goalkeeping coach Matthew Omino, who also works for domestic league leaders Gor Mahia, is well aware of the quality of Sunday’s opponents.
Many of the Congo squad play for AC Leopards, who knocked Gor Mahia out of the CAF Champions League back in April.
“A bulk of the Congo team is from AC Leopards who we played against in the continental stage,” he told Futaa.com.
“They have good players but we showed them too much respect and that proved costly at the end.
“Gor Mahia played well against AC Leopards and even the fans gave us a standing ovation after the game. If we can maintain focus for the entire duration of the match we can manage a positive result.”
Congo, led by wily veteran Claude Le Roy, will be without Thievy Bifouma, Francis N’Ganga , Marvin Baudry and Delvin N’Dinga.
They were dumped out of this year’s edition by their neighbours from the Democratic Republic, and are bidding to reach their second successive finals, having failed to qualify for the previous seven.