Local football enthusiasts are still reeling from the national team’s performance during the 2-0 defeat suffered at the hands of the Desert Foxes of Algeria in their opening match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.
After a 15-year wait, a Sh240 million outlay from the government followed by a three-week camp at a state-of-the-art facility in France, a lot was expected.
However, Kenya were so poor that they struggled to string together three of four passes and the Algerians soon realised this, pressing the Stars defenders high up the pitch and forcing them into mistakes.
While Kenya’s French coach Sebastien Migne cited lack of experience at that level for the loss, all blame falls at his door step.
Migne has been relying on defensive solidity since he arrived in May 2018 but that was aided by the availability of his preferred central defenders Joash Onyango and Brian Mandela. However, going to Egypt, Migne was robbed of the duo through injury, meaning attack in essence would have been the best form of defence.
But he persisted with his defensive tactics, fielding Musa Mohammed and Joseph Okumu at centre-back with Philemon Otieno at right-back and Aboud Omar on the opposite side. Captain Victor Wanyama and Dennis Odhiambo played in central midfield with the aim of nullifying the threat of the Algerians.
The tactic proved ineffective as the defence was always caught napping whenever the Algerians attacked. With the defensive approach, it became difficult for the offensive players to produce anything in the final third given the midfield was bereft of creativity, leaving Olunga isolated and Kenya unable to muster a single shot on target the entire game.
The Frenchman’s decision to play Francis Kahata wide instead of the no10 role behind Olunga was also ill-advised as the Gor Mahia midfielder struggled to make an impact.
Played behind the striker, Kahata’s intelligence and movement would have seen them create some chances since he has the vision to see the little pockets of space and slot in defence splitting passes that Olunga can feed on. Heading into today’s must-win match, Migne cannot afford to gamble.