Former Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno believes Kenya’s chances of advancing past the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations lies on how best they will execute their attacks at the June 21 to July 19 tournament.
Kenya had the best defence in qualifying but it is the lack of goals that Otieno is worried about.
Stars qualified for the biannual continental tournament for the first time in 15 years and Otieno, who captained Stars for 12 years during his heydays admits that Pool ‘C’ where Kenya is paired alongside Senegal, Algeria and Tanzania is tough and the only way to ease to the round of 16 is by scoring as many goals as possible.
The former Tusker wants strikers given the nod by coach Sebastien Migne to pounce on each and every chance that comes their way, which will in return ease their progression. Otieno counts on the red-hot Michael Olunga and Ayub Timbe to hedline the attac and shoulder the responsibility of steering the nation as they seek to make history.
“We were thrown in a tough pool which, to many, has outright winners but we are capable of producing an upset and progress to the second round. At that level, you have to score goals and this is a challenge to our strikers to be sharp in front of goal and help the team win matches,” said Otieno.
“The biggest advantage we have so far is the coach knows 90 percent of his players and I think with the likes of Olunga and Timbe, whom we hope will pass fitness tests, will be relied on. When you come up against Senegal and Algeria you simply can’t sit deep and defend, you ought to attack and use your chances well.”
known for his defensive prowess and leadership on the pitch, Otieno wants the entire team to observe concentration levels and team spirit which befits such a tournament. The former Santos player observes that Kenya have an eqaully talented squad, just like the Senegalese and Algerian outfits but only teamwork and maximum concentration from each and every player will make the difference.
“The players should support each other by playing as a unit in all the matches. At this level, teamwork makes the difference and it should be embraced by all the players.We have talented players just like the other teams in the pool and it’s only through playing as a unit that we wil be able to achieve our target,” said Otieno. “It paid dividends against Ghana during the qualifiers and if we replicate the same in Egypt, then we stand a big chance of making it to the second round.The players should avoid school boy mistakes as we will be playing opponents known for capitalising on such errors.”
Otieno who was voted as the best defender in the African dream team in 2016 has asked the team to take each match at a time and the players to use the platform to showcase their talents.The former Cleveland City Stars defender argues that this approach will enable the players to fully concentrate and give maximum regardless the quality of opposition.
“The team has to take each match at a time and with the seriousness it deserves. By doing this, the players will be able to know what is required of them and it will be easier to have them give their all in order to achieve their objectives. We are advantaged that we know the teams we are coming up against and their key players,” said Otieno.
“This makes it easier to plan for each and every match. The tournament also offers a good platform for our players to showcase their talents to the world and they should ensure they fight to the best of their capabilities. We are happy that the government and the federation have lined up good preparations in terms of kitting, remuneration and training camp for the players, who have no reasons not to deliver.”