There is no gainsaying the fact that the attributes of a good goalkeeper is strength of character and good position which leads in conceding the fewest goals possible.
Harambee Stars have three Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)-bound goalkeepers, namely Patrick Matasi, Farouk Shilako and John Oyemba all who will be jostling for playing time in the prime Africa football event set for Egypt on June 21-August 19.
Needless to say, Matasi who plies his trade at St. Georges of Ethiopia stands out among the three for the simple fact that he has only conceded 12 goals ever since joining the Saints from former Kenya champions Tusker FC last season.
The 12 strikes Matasi has let in thus far is way below the 16 the top glove-man at Jimma Aba Jifar FC has conceded in the 2018/2019 Ethiopia League.
In contrast to Matasi’s record, Shikalo who was a regular for Bandari FC at the recently concluded 2018.2019 SportPesa Premier League conceded at least 20 goals whereas Oyemba, who played a lengthy part of action with Kariobangi Sharks following the injury of Brian Bwire, let in 31. These are some of the least number of goals conceded in the Kenyan top-tier league and according to retired Harambee Stars first choice goalkeeper Francis Onyiso, it was justifiable for Oyemba and Shikalo to be summoned for the AFCON assignment alongside Matasi.
However, Onyiso, who starred for Kenya the last time Harambee Stars featured in the AFCON in 2004 in Tunisia, reckons that a lot needs to be done if the best is to come out of the three glove-men who will be jostling for playing time at Africa’s biggest football fiesta.
“During our time, hard training and discipline towards trainers was key to success and the results were there for all to see,” said Onyiso who was also in the crack Stars squad that shone brightly in 1997 under the late German tactician Reinhardt Fabisch.
Onyiso received plaudits at AFCON 2004 for helping Kenya settle for respectable score lines despite Stars succumbing to Africa football heavyweights Mali and Senegal in two of their opening fixtures.
He opines that Oyemba and Shikalo have a lot to learn from Matasi who is relatively experienced, adding that should they be fielded, there should be no reason why they should suffer stage-fright in the face of challenge from Senegalese and Algeria front-runners.
“The national Head coach (Migne) selected the three goalkeepers on his own observation and if any of them get play-time will be fielded will manage to keep a clean sheet in the first match, it will be a big morale booster ahead of subsequent fixtures.