Kenyan football fans have been left utterly disappointed by Harambee Stars 2-0 loss to Algeria in their opening match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo on Sunday night.
With the team's disjointed performance, which was summed up by no shot on target in the entire game, many a Kenyan fan say they deserved better from Harambee Stars, especially considering the impressive efforts from the team in the qualification campaign.
So what exactly went wrong in this game?
1. French camp - Football Kenya Federation, reportedly on the advice of coach Sebastien Migne, a Frenchman, elected to organize a three-week training camp for the team in France in readiness for this tournament. Then FKF convinced the government to spend Sh200 million on this project. But the climate in Paris (an average 16 degrees) and Cairo (32 degrees) are miles apart. For instance, Uganda elected to camp in Abu Dhabi, Burundi and Algeria were in Doha, Qatar, and Tanzania in Cairo. Against Algeria, Stars players appeared to struggle in Cairo's sweltering heat. Was Paris the right option?
2. Team selection - Migne made some surprise selections for this tournament. He left out experienced players such as Jesse Were, Allan Wanga, Anthony Akumu, and David 'Cheche. In their stead, he opted for Masoud Juma, Ovella Ochieng, John Avire, Joshua Okumu and the veteran Dennis Odhiambo. Against Algeria, Okumu did okay. But Odhiambo struggled and was replaced by Johanna Omollo. Avire, Ovella and Juma did not kick a ball in this match. The jury is still out on this selection.
3. Wrong tactics - Granted, Algeria are far better than Kenya. But Migne seems to have set his team out to defend. Algeria's coach Djamel Belmadi knew about this well before and rightfully predicted in his pre-match comments that Kenya would sit back. The defensive tactic gravely hampered Stars attacking options. Kenyans mastered no shot on Algeria's goal all game despite possessing the likes of Micheal Olunga and Ayub Timbe.
4. Poor performance - Some Harambee Stars players did not turn up for this one. Francis Kahata is capable of better. Dennis Odhiambo and Aboud Omar too. Timbe struggled. So did the centre backs, and Wanyama. Wait! I'm almost mentioning the whole team.
5. Injuries - It might have been a different ball game if all players Migne had planned to count on were fit. In France, Christopher Mbamba's injury ruled him out. Then Brian Mandela suffered a horrific injury. Joash Onyango too was unavailable after injuring himself on the eve of the match.