James Magayi @magayijim
There is a huge dilemma in Harambee Stars camp over who will man the posts when Kenya takes on Black Stars of Ghana in a make-or-break Africa Cup of Nation qualifier at Kasarani stadium on Saturday.
Harambee Stars lie bottom of Group F and risk tumbling out of contention for Cameroon 2019 if they fall at home to a star-studded Ghana. The goalkeeping department is one area of concern as not a single shot-stopper called up ticks all the boxes ahead of the big tie.
Five goalkeepers are in camp but all of them carry a frailty of sorts that leaves pundits guessing which one of them is capable of keeping at bay the array of talents paraded by Kwesi Appiah. Nonetheless, one of them will find favour in the eyes of coach Sebastian Migne and part-time goalkeeper trainer Guillame Coffy before Saturday.
Boniface Oluoch of Gor Mahia, Patrick Matasi of Tusker, Farouk Shikalo of Bandari and Ian Otieno of Zambia’s Red Arrows are in with equal chances while it looks a bit early for Kariobangi Sharks’ young custodian Brian Bwire.
Erstwhile Kenya One Oluoch’s place in the starting team is uncertain after appearing to fall down the pecking order at his. He conceded a number of soft goals for K’Ogalo that allowed his understudies to upstage him, a precedence that should jeopardise his national team place as well.
It is not clear what Oluoch’s club woes mean for the Stars technical team as he possess vast experience in goal and the national team goalkeeping coach Coffy may not have been keeping tabs while away.
Matasi threatened Oluoch’s place in national team early this year but the former Posta Rangers man has conceded scores of goals this season both at Rangers and his new club Tusker. His statistics this year cast a huge doubt over his chances too.
Shikalo and the formidable Otieno therefore represent the best in Kenya at the moment but the duo lack requisite experience at international level. Otieno has revived his career in Zambia after a serious meltdown at AFC Leopards. He boasts of 13 clean sheets so far and recently earned plaudits from the last undisputed Kenya One Arnold Origi.
Shikalo has equally been mean in goal for Bandari and owns the best statistics among all goalkeepers playing in Kenya this year. The 23-year-old has not conceded in 16 top-flight matches and is primed to be crowned goalkeeper of the year. However, like Otieno, he is inexperienced.