Tanzania/Algeria: 'Stars Need to Improve On Set Plays'

FORMER Kenyan international Musa Otieno has said the national football team; Taifa Stars will have to work out in defending set pieces, as they face giants Algeria tomorrow.

Stars will bid farewell to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals tomorrow, when they take on group C winners Algeria at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo. "In the trend we have seen, Taifa Stars are struggling to deal with set plays.

Against Kenya, they struggled to deal with the strength and height of Olunga (Michael)," said the former Harambee Stars central defender. Otieno said set pieces proved so critical to Kenya and Olunga used his strength to net the equaliser.

He further said that Kenya didn't allow Taifa Stars to play the ball from their back and Harambee Stars were playing according to their style and it worked well for them.

He said Taifa Stars also invited pressure especially in the second half and in the process committed too many fouls to give advantage to Harambee Stars to launch deadly balls in the box.

Otieno had enjoyed an illustrious career on his native continent, playing for AFC Leopards and Tusker FC in Kenya, and from 1997 until 2011 for Santos in the South African Premier Soccer League.

He helped them win the PSL title in 2001/2002. Shortly after the match against Kenya, Taifa Stars Head Coach, Emmanuel Amunike said the team was not 100 per cent ready, to compete favourably at the AFCON finals.

Amunike was clearly dismayed by the teams' poor defending. "We paid the price for not managing our advantage. We committed a lot of mistakes at the back-line.

When you throw an advantage you definitely pay for it. To be very honest to you, we started the game with a very good note, scoring first and leading towards half time.

"There were a lot of crazy things that were going on in the field. Defensively we committed a lot of mistakes. The second goal the Kenyans equlised was a big mistake from our defending.

This is what we practiced all over that when they drop the ball in the first post, players should know where to stand and clear their lines.

As a coach, you stand on the sidelines and you are helpless. "Every team wants to go far but in reality, we are lacking a lot in character. There is no character in the team," fuming Amunike said.

Stars are still waiting to win their first match in the AFCON finals. Tanzania's first AFCON since 1980 has not gone to plan for coach Amunike and his players, as they enter this final group match having already been mathematically eliminated from the tournament.

Taifa Stars opened their campaign with a 2-0 loss to Senegal last Sunday and followed that up on Thursday night with a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to East African rivals Kenya.

Amunike's side twice led through Simon Msuva and Mbwana Samatta, but were ultimately out-fought by the Harambee Stars.

Being guaranteed to finish bottom of the group means Taifa Stars have only pride to fight for, but they could pick up a consolation win against an Algerian team which is likely to field a weakened line-up.

This is because the North Africans impressively defeated Senegal 1-0 on Thursday (thanks to a goal early in the second half through Youcef Belaili) and therefore secured not only a spot in the last 16, but also first place in Group C.

This gives coach Djamel Belmadi the luxury of resting key players such as Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi (among others) to ensure they are fit and fresh for a last 16 clash against a third-placed team from one of Groups A, B or F next Sunday.

In head-to-head stats, Tanzania and Algeria have met in 10 previous matches.

The Fennec Foxes have claimed five wins compared to one for the Taifa Stars, while four matches have been drawn. The teams' most recent meeting was a friendly in Algiers in March last year which the home team won 4-1.

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