LESSONS FROM TOUR de CAIRO

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Harambee Stars gearing up to face Taifa Stars

Bottomline: An underrated talent who made Tottenham midfield enforcer, Victor Wanyama look like a Kariobangi Sharks player.

 

Personally I never expected Harambee Stars to qualify for the last 16, any Kenyan who had a contrary thought is a pretender. Harambee stars never disappoint, how on earth did you expect them to edge out either Senegal or Algeria to the last 16. Football might be an unpredictable sport though;Peru stunned a star studded Chilean contingent 3-0 to reach the Copa America final just the other day and The Penguins of Madagascar exorcised the Nigerian demons of age forgery to top Group B.

The two are not isolated Peru qualified for the 2018 World Cup at the expense of Chile,Paraguay and Ecuador. The Peruvian side is also not short of depth within their ranks boasting  seasoned players led by their talismanic skipper Paolo Guerrero Gonzales (35), Yoshimar Yotún Flores (29), André Carrillo (28) and the injured Jefferson Farfan (34). As for The Barea they have to thank Ahmad Ahmad for putting in place structures that have made their football flourish since he took the reins at the Malagasy Football Federation in 2003.

Our goose was cooked the moment teams were pooled in groups no amount of overseas training at the shores of the Mediterranean or warm up matches would have changed our fate.

We did our best escorting Senegal and Algeria to the last 16 as we converged in one corner table with our Tanzanian brothers to debate who between their star forward Mbwana Samatta and Engineer Michael Olunga is the best goal poacher in the region. Olunga 2-1 Samatta that was the result.

Lessons from tour de Cairo;

There is Only one Johanna Omollo; Calm,composed and collected he was the one pulling strings for Harambee Stars in the midfield. An underrated talent who made Tottenham midfield enforcer, Victor Wanyama look like a Kariobangi Sharks player. Migné realized he blundered opting for Kahata ahead of Cercle Brugge Omollo in the starting eleven. His introduction in the second half in the first match against Algeria proved he was a costly commission.

Harambee Stars Midfield Maestro Johanna ‘Tosh’ Omollo shielding the ball against  Algerian opposition

Football commentators and pundits have continuously mixed up the two Johannas in the squad Erick Johanna Omondi the former Mathare United man and Johanna Ochieng Omollo the midfield linchpin from Dandora. There is only one Johanna Omollo the other one is Erick Omondi so stop the confusion please.

Club vs Nation; When one stars for club it doesn’t necessarily mean he will transfer his form to the national side. We have seen stars who have failed to replicate their club form at the national team,Lionel Messi tops the list. Francis Kahata, Victor Wanyama, Philemon ‘Mbish’ Otieno and David ‘Calabar’ Owino were culprits in Cairo.

Zambian League is a Scam; Sébastien Migné might be wrong about many things but he is right about the Zambian Premier League, it’s a scam. Jesse Jackson Were’s omission stirred a lot of public debate but the performance of Musa Mohammed and David Owino who are top defenders in that league proves he was right. Who wouldn’t score 30 league goals with such defenders? We should only allow copper miners to ply their trade in Zambia not footballers.

Amina is exceptional; love or loathe her,give credit where it’s due. We all remember the kinds of memes that went around when Ambassador, Dr. Amina Mohamed was given lighter duties at the Sports ministry replacing ‘boxer’ Rashid Echessa after it appeared the shoes of Dr. Fred Matiang’i were too big for her to fill. Her organizational skills are definately exceptional we all know what she did when she was at foreign affairs. The preparation for the tourney were top notch there were no complains arising flight delays, accommodation and allowances.

For the first time Harambee Stars had a training camp in Europe, foreign players arrived on time and no one is complaining about unpaid allowances. Nigeria with all their oil had go slows over unpaid allowances, Cameroon,Uganda and Zimbabwe also had go slows over unpaid allowances. Amina has that magic touch everything she touches turns to gold.

Toothless Sharks; With all due respect FKF President Nick Mwendwa should stop forcing toothless sharks (former and current) down the throat of national team. Masoud Juma, Ovella Ochieng’ and John Oyemba only went to collect allowance in Egypt. Migné in his right mind knew he couldn’t play the trio under whatever circumstances but for the sake of his job he had to tag them along. Sony Sugar custodian Kevin Omondi is far much better compared to Oyemba, Jesse Jackson Were despite playing in the Zambian league is better than goal shy Al-Nasr Benghazi forward Masoud Juma who hasn’t scored a goal in 8 months.

Joseph Okumu and Michael Olunga in a training session

Bright Future; we still have brighter prospects of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Going forward we should build our attack around Olunga and John Avire, our defence around Joseph Okumu and Erick ‘Marcello’ ; and  our midfield around Johanna Omollo and Ayub Timbe.

Big Names No Game; Our big name players never rose up to the ocassion as they did during the qualifiers. With Joash ‘The Berlin Wall’ Onyango injured hopes for clean sheets were dim though it provided the opportunity for Joseph ‘Crouch’ Okumu to show Kenyans what he is capable of. Wanyama was missing in action as he played conservatively touching the ball sparingly thinking about his place in the future plans of Mauricio Roberto Pochettino now that Tanguy Ndombele has just arrived from Lyon ,Philomen ‘Mbish’ Otieno was nursing Gor Mahia hangovers always absent minded and full of kindergarten errors whereas Aboud Omar wasn’t anywhere close to the Aboud Omar we know.

Concentration is King, Communication is Queen; Most of the goals we conceded were due to lack of concentration and miscommunication. Philemon ‘Mbish’ Otieno and Patrick Matasi were always at loggerheads at the back with Matasi constantly shouting ‘Mbish’ all the time as Wanyama and Omino who were supposed to engineer everything defensively weren’t communicating at all. Matasi always switched off at the begining or end of the match something he needs to work on.

Tribal lenses; When we lose its because of Raila Odinga visited the Stars prior to their match against the Desert Foxes and people from Western Kenya who are mostly his supporters forming 99.999% of the national team. But when we win its a Kenyan win, when we hammered Magufuli’s boys. This madness of sacrificing patriotism on the alter of tribalism should end mostly on social media, lets not tribalize sports which is talent based.

National Selection; Squad selection should be based on natural selection not under hand maneuvers and past achievements. Some deserving players such as Sony Sugar custodian Kevin Omondi, Ulinzi Stars forward Enosh Ochieng, talismanic Bandari forwards Abdallah Hassan and Yemi Mwana. Spineless Sébastien Migné bends into the whims of Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President and Kariobangi Sharks owner, Nick Mwendwa selecting under-deserving Kariobangi Sharks players to please his paymaster. Who picks two goalkeepers from one club to be part a national team John Oyemba and his back up Brian Bwire as part of a 30 man provisional squad, who does that?

Bring Back Adel Amrouche; We need a coach who has a deeper understanding when it comes to African football for us to have any chances of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup or even qualifying for the knockout stages in the 2021 African Cup of Nations. If we stick with Sébastien Migné qualifying for the 2021 AFCON will be a pipe dream for he is a man who is rudderless,clueless,spineless and gutless full of guesswork. He never had a first eleven as he continuously changed the starting eleven.

Master tactician Adel Amrouche

This shows a coach who doesn’t have a plan, the only plan that made stars to qualify for the 2019 tourney were put in place by Paul Put whom FKF (Football Kenya Federation) couldn’t ensure he stays put due to salary issues, look at the magic he has done with Guinea, they are in the AFCON knockout. The last time we came close to qualifying for the world cup was when Adel Amrouche,a master tactician made all sorcerers to be called into action as we held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in Calabar as they scampered for survival.Bring Back Amrouche…..

Positive Criticism; Those who had ‘wet dreams’ that Harambee stars were going to reach the knockout stages at least were certainly a disappointed lot. Personalizing insults towards individual players calling them unprintable names isn’t how to go about the disappointment. Instead opt for constructive positive criticism not insults; these players have mothers,wives and children, how do you think they feel when you hurl abuses towards them for (mis)representing their country.

 

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