Mountain to climb for Stars after first leg loss to Ethiopia
The technical bench of national football team Harambee Stars is united in the belief that the side can overturn the 2-0 defeat they suffered in the hands of Ethiopia in Sunday’s African Nations Championships when the two sides meet in the return leg in two weeks.
“We can overturn the result. I have no doubt about that because the opponent was no better than us. The only thing that cost us that match was a series of defensive errors and we shall see how best to improve before we host them for the return match,” Kenya’s assistant coach, Musa Otieno, said after the match in Bahir Dir.
Harambee Stars raised the country’s hopes of doing well in the tournament following their impressive display against the Republic of Congo that ended in a 1-1 draw, but against Ethiopia on Sunday, the team’s defensive frailties were badly exposed.
Otieno concedes that both goals resulted from woeful defending, as full back Lloyd Wahome failed to restrain winger Asechalew Girma’s bursting run, allowing him to score the opener.
Kenya fell further behind in the second-half through a needless penalty made possible by defender Aboud Omar who had executed an unfair tackle on an Ethiopian challenger inside the box.
Towards the end of the game, Kenya won a penalty of their own, but Tusker midfielder Kevin Kimani squandered a chance to score by sending a feeble shot in the way of Ethiopian goalkeeper Tarik Getenet who was alert between the goal posts.
“The plan was to start with (Michael) Olunga as the lone striker and then bring in two strikers (Jesse Were and Jacob Keli) in the second half. That early goal however disoriented the team but we hope to put up a more unified performance in the return leg,” Otieno said from Bahir Dar.
As they prepare for the return leg next weekend, Stars’ coach Bobby Williamson will have to sort out the balance between defence and attack if Kenya is to have any hope of featuring in this year’s edition of the biannual competition scheduled for January in Rwanda.
The team was expected to arrive in the country yesterday evening, with players joining their respective team mates starting Wednesday in preparation for the second leg of the Kenyan Premier League that kicks off this weekend.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian media has announced that although the stadium that hosted Sunday’s match in Bahir Dar is officially listed to accommodate 60,000 spectators, the actual number of fans in the stadium was no less than 80,000.