Kenya is still coming to terms with Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Zambia’s Chipolopolo, a match which the Harambee Stars should have won.
So where did it go all wrong for the national team? What happened after a bright start which led to the first goal?
Lineup and Selection
Why on earth was Bobby Williamson starting him on the bench in favor of Lawrence Olum, who is hardly better than ‘Cheche’? Someone can argue that the latter lacked match fitness, but so was Olum. It was a mistake which cost the team and one which could have been avoided.
It’s intriguing to imagine what criteria were used to select the first eleven or whether someone influenced the selection. Everybody can bare witness that David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng’ has been the squad’s consistent performer in recent times. Were it not for him, the Stars could have lost against Congo Brazzaville. At the moment, he is the fastest of the central defenders, who on numerous occasions has made vital tackles to deny opponents.This was the technical bench’s very first mistake.
Another mistake was starting two defensive midfielders, who are doing the same job, but still do not effectively complement each other.
Away to Congo Brazzaville, the Victor Wanyama-Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth combination was wanting, the two struggled and lacked understanding, notably ‘Gattuso’, who looked uncomfortable in what he was doing, sometimes giving away possession cheaply in dangerous areas. Against Ethiopia during the Chan qualifier, the same happened. In short, he is not worth the call-up or to be fair to him, he should not start.
So why is he chosen over and over again?
Ineffective | Dennis Oliech failed to replicate his past form for the Stars
Despite his will to help Kenya, it is clear Dennis Oliech’s days with the national team are over.
He is not the Oliech of three or four years ago.
Everything about him is wanting and it was surprising that he was given a starting berth against Chipolopolo. Why on earth was he chosen over the in-form Jesse Were?
At long last, frustrations were the order of the day. He could have come as a substitute and not a starter. All there is to be said about the early cameo of Noah Wafula after an injury to Paul Were is: ‘punda amechoka’.
Formation and Tactics
It is the system which backfired.T his was another error by the coach; using an orthodox 4-4-2 formation, starting with two defensive minded players while playing at home.
The best formation would have been 4-4-2 (diamond) or 4-3-3, utilizing the home ground advantage, attack, attack and attack, while simultaneously keeping tight at the back. While the selection has been criticised above, even with the players chosen, Kenya could have done more to secure victory.
‘Gattuso’ could have played in that defensive midfield role, on his right, Ayub Timbe and on his left Paul Were, with Victor Wanyama playing behind Dennis Oliech and Michael Olunga.
Should Kenya lose possession, Timbe and Were would automatically fall back to help the full backs, with Wanyama helping ‘Gattuso’. And when Kenya have possession, the electrifying pace of the two wingers would have been effective and helpful in launching counter attacks, with short passes and crosses being major assets.
Did that happen? No! It was the old-fashioned 4-4-2, which is simply not working for the Harambee Stars.
A 4-4-2 (diamond) with Wanyama playing as the defensive midfielder, Bernard Mang’oli taking the ‘Kahata’ role behind the strikers, a position he has excelled in while at AFC Leopards or Johanna Omolo, and Olunga and Jesse Were leading the line would have worked a charm, given Kenya the advantage, and hopefully put Zambia to the sword.
Then why did we change from playing short, precise passes to long balls?
It is a tactic which turned against Kenya and made the national side pay. After the match, Zambia’s coach George Lwandamina acknowledged that the change in strategy gave Chipolopolo chances they never expected. Why don’t he stick to his game plan? Questions must be asked…
It is never too late for the Harambee Stars, and the coach must now shuffle his back in order to ensure we maximise our resources. It is high time the Stars realized that Kenya is a big nation as far as football is concerned.
Kenya have the players, but utilizing them is a problem. It is high time for the national side to do away with players who lack match fitness or who are palpably past their best.
Allan Wanga, Dennis Oliech, Lawrence Olum, Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth and Noah Wafula cannot take us forward. Wanga and Oliech for instance had not featured in any competitive fixtures. They lacked match fitness, so why were they even called up?
Wanyama and ‘Gattuso’ | Failed to combine well in midfield
As for Wafula, he has qualities, but is not good enough for the national team. How can Bobby Williamson not realise this?
Kenya still have time to make things better, they have slipped but not fallen and are still in a good position to make it to Gabon.
Qualification must recommence against Guinea Bissau. If Williamson cannot secure three points there, then the 2017 African Cup of Nations must be forgotten.