Kenya’s Harambee Stars finally made it to the Africa Cup of Nations after a 15 year absence. This was great news to many soccer lovers across the Country who had for a long time dreamt of having Kenya make her way back to the table of men.
Everything has however not gone according to plan in Egypt with Kenya losing against the big boys from Algeria and Senegal while only picking a win against neighbours Tanzania.
Kenya’s latest 3-0 loss to Senegal has put the Nations chances of qualification to the next round in doubt. Harambee Stars will have to wait for the last round of group matches on Tuesday to know whether they will be going back to the field of play in Egypt or they will be boarding the next flight home.
The Sebastien Migne led side had a great first half only for things to go south in the second half due to a number of reasons.
Well, these are some of the areas of concern from Kenya’s Loss to Senegal and the team’s general performance at the Group Stages.
1. MATASI IS GOOD, BUT CAN BE GREAT
There is no doubt that the St. Goerges custodian had a great first half against Senegal. He even saved a spot kick from last season’s EPL topscorer, Sadio Mane only for him to make a schoolboy mistake in the 63rd Minute, a mistake that changed the whole dimension of the game.
It will also be remembered that during the Tanzania game, the Taifa Stars scored the second goal thanks to another Patrick Matasi blunder.
Matasi has great room for improvemnt and with the right people covering him in defence, he will surely prove to be a great asset to the Kenyan team going foward as the team looks for a replacement.
2. KENYA HAS NO RELIABLE DEFENCE, WE NEED AN OVERHAUL IN THIS DEPARTMENT
What happened to the Kenyan defence that played in the AFCON qualifiers?
The Kenyan defence at this year’s African Cup of Nations has been wanting. Only Real Monarch’s Joseph Okumu has stood out while the rest have been sleeping on their job.
Kenya has conceded more that two goals in each of her group stages matches, a figure that is all but worrying.
The defence has made some silly mistakes, some that have even led to penalties.
For instance, against Senegal defenders Musa Mohammed and Philemon Otieno were guilty for two of the goals conceded.
Philemon Otieno even got a red card for a clumsy challenge that earned Senegal a second Penalty.
Kenya needs a right back to fight for a starting place with Philemon.
3. OLUNGA AS A LONE STRIKER IS A NO!
Michael Olunga has been outstanding in the Kenyan colours. He has scored a number of goals in the big stages from the qualifiers to the AFCON showpiece itself.
He notched a brace against Tanzania and even won the man of the match award.
Against Senegal, he was however isolated making it difficult for him to terrorize the Senegalese defence.
We all remember that during Kenya’s clash against Tanzania, Coach Migne introduced youngster John Avire and with that, Olunga got the support he needed. He could move foward freely and with that, he got the goals.
This was not the case against Senegal and because of that, the Japan based striker failed to shine.
4. OTHER POINTS OF CONCERN
For the second game in the tournament, Kenya lost against a football powerhouse in Africa. Does it mean that Harambee Stars cannot go head to head with the big boys in the Continent?
With the right mentality and focus, all is possible. We beat Ghana in the qualifiers at the Kasarani Stadium despite being 10 men after “Berlin Wall” Joash Onyango was shown a red card.
In this year’s AFCON, Madagascar beat former Champions and football powerhouse Nigeria. This is a clear indication that the so called African big boys are beatable.
Kenya needs to pick up the vital lessons learnt at this year’s AFCON and start a rebuilding process that will help the team compete at the grandest stages of them all with the best of the best.