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September 20, 2018

Did Stars shoot themselves in the foot? I think so

It’s been a really weird week in football. International weeks always are. But this past weekend was significant in that Harambee Stars had a crucial game that we botched despite odds being in our favour.
I was a little apprehensive a while back when international players like Dennis Oliech were called up because I am one of these people who believe if your “sell by date” has passed then kindly retire. But I felt the team could do with a bit of maturity in it for the sake of motivation. But to put him as a starter? I think that was the first mistake made by Bobby Williamson and Musa Otieno. You do not start a player who’s form we know isn’t what it used to be just because he has a name. And sure enough Oliech looked a little out of place for much of the game. The technical bench should have started a fully youthful side of hungry and very talented individuals. Michael Olunga proved to us that he should, for the near future, be the first name on the Stars team sheet while Paul Were was also very good but, sadly, had to leave because of an early injury. That led to error number two – Noah Wafula. Wafula hasn’t been exceptional for his AFC Leopards in recent weeks so it was a surprise to see him replace Were. Particularly because the other Were, Jesse, also on the bench, has been spectacular for Tusker this term.
Some players did really turn up and deserve special mention. These are Ayub Timbe, Lawrence Olum and of course Olunga. The bulk of the players did not. As much as I respect Victor Wanyama, I think he didn’t behave like a leader on the day. He was too temperamental and complained about every decision. Replays showed, in nearly every instance, the referee was right. I don’t blame Wanyama though for his presence not being felt as a player. This was because the coach decided to play two defensive players in midfield to the point where the strikers were starved in terms of supply. Both goals Kenya conceded were also due to lapses in concentration. Stories began to emerge about what had happened at the Stars camp on Saturday night. While unconfirmed, these could have been the reason for those lapses. After conceding the first goal we lost our shape completely. Players were irrationally kicking the ball forward hoping to find Olunga. Sadly the Gor Mahia striker had to keep dropping deep to retrieve the ball.
I was pleased to see that fans really turned up to support Harambee Stars despite years of disappointment. Doctors orders meant I couldn’t go to the stadium but I did enjoy it on my expensively accessed TV channels. I give it to Zambia who started off poorly but gained confidence as the game went on and knew after their first goal that they were going to win. Once they settled they never lost their shape and must have been laughing all the way back to Lusaka after the game.  It’s a pity because Kenya had a good team although scouting should always continue.  We have resilient fans and we were in a great position to garner the three points but we let it go! It’s possible to come back from the disappointment and still qualify for Afcon 2017 but it’s going to be a steep mountain to climb. It will need proper preparation, careful team selection, and a good mentorship programme that demands focus from our players.  Talk to me on @CarolRadull on twitter or www.facebook.com/CarolRadull
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