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Okumbi’s fielding under the spotlight again

It’s the same old story and quite disturbing that the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Allstars team suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to La Liga second tier side Cardoba CF in their first match of their Spanish tour on Wednesday night.

Kenyan football fans are disappointed with the performance of the team which is primed to play at the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) next January here at home. Early this year, the KPL team made their first tour of Europe where they were beaten 2-1 away by Hull City’s second string side ahead of international fixtures.

Granted, the latest defeat by Cardoba not only outlines the gulf in football standards between Kenya’s top-tier league and Spain’s second division, but also leaves a trail of worries over how Stars will perform when CHAN comes home.

Stars were disappointing at Estadio El Mauli on the night and what is worse, the match was against a Cardoba “B” team whose superiority was there for all to see.

Since Stanely Okumbi took the coaching reins from Bobby Williamson, he has been a subject of criticism over his moribund fielding which is punctuated by failure to give enough play time to players who have made their mark in the local football scene in preference of the tried and tested lot.

Such preferences transcends onto the pitch and many will recall when talented Sony Sugar’s youngster’ Joshua Otieno was overlooked ahead of the Hull City match and was only airlifted to Europe at the 11th hour as an afterthought.

It goes without saying that such matches are meant to expose young players especially in the face of upcoming tournaments like CHAN and again, questions are bound to be asked why Okumbi fielded experienced Gor Mahia goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch instead of upcoming Mathias Kigonya of Sofapaka.

Perhaps Okumbi should have taken a few lessons from last week’s SportPesa friendly match between Gor Mahia and Everton in Dar-es-Salaam when Oluoch was replaced by Fredrick Odhiambo, who pulled off top drawer saves.

While fielding shenanigans at Harambee Stars have been going on, fans who are overly concerned with the team’s performance have remained stoic.

But as long as this continues, it would be foolhardy for anyone who cares about Stars to remain silent as this will in the long run reflect on the performance of the team in CHAN.

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