Five things we learnt from Kenya, Uganda match - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 9 September 2019

Five things we learnt from Kenya, Uganda match

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga (left) greets Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga before their international friendly match against Uganda Cranes at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on September 8, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |
SAMUEL GACHARIRA
By SAMUEL GACHARIRA
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Francis Kimanzi began his third stint as Harambee Stars coach with a one all draw against Uganda in an international friendly match at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Sunday.
Kenneth Muguna prodded home a second half equaliser to cancel out Emmanuel Okwi's peach of a goal scored earlier in the first half.
While five players got their first senior team appearance, it was Johnstone Omurwa and Lawrence Juma who stood out among the debutants.
Here, Nation Sport presents five things we learned from Sunday's friendly.
1. Muguna the leader is a special player
There is something about Muguna's goal that makes him special. While Francis Kahata is a better passer, Muguna carries a big attacking threat in him.
His finish was a poacher's goal. It only needed one touch and he got everything right from his positioning and the timing of his run.
Having spent the last two seasons under the shadow of Kahata at Gor Mahia, Muguna's elevation to skipper at club level has done him a lot of good.
Unlike in the past, he now needs to lead from the front. He got a brace in the league opener against Tusker and continued his scoring form at the national team.
He could have easily picked an assist had Michael Olunga buried his chance when Muguna picked him out with a delightful ball over the top.
Muguna is no longer the spindly teenager that was voted KPL MVP in 2016. He has added maturity and goals to his game. His passing range has also improved and he could be one of the local based players to feature consistently in Kimanzi's first eleven.
2. Replacing Wanyama is a real headache
Victor Wanyama has had his fair share of average performances at the national team, but his absence was greatly felt against Uganda. It finally showed that an average Wanyama is better than some of his 'replacements' at their best.
While Wanyama is a beast on a good day, his best years are now behind him. His replacement should now be warming up to the role.
It is not lost on anyone that Anthony Akumu has excelled in the defensive midfield role in the past. Duncan Ochieng also did a brilliant job in the 2017 Cecafa tournament and the pair remain the best in that position in the Zambian Super League.
If Kimanzi opts for youth, Gor Mahia's Tobias Otieno, Wazito's Teddy Osok and Mathare United's Roy Okal have not yet celebrated their 23rd birthdays.
Abroad, Georgia-based Alwyn Tera and Sweden based Anthony Wambani are promising talents.
Lawrence Juma also surprised everyone in that role in the second half where Kenya finally came to life. Kimanzi only needs one from the lot. Indeed, he is spoilt for choice, but Collins Agade's chances now look slim.
3. Matasi can do better
There was little Patrick Matasi could do after Kenya's best defender Joash Onyango was swept aside by Okwi. It was easier for Okwi to score than miss.
While Matasi did not keep a clean sheet, there's no doubt that he has greatly improved since he made his debut two years ago. However, there are aspects of his game that still need polishing for him to become 'Kenya One'.
He spilled an innocuous ball from a corner that could have easily resulted to a goal. Then he got his positioning wrong and was lucky Mustafa Kizza's effort from a free-kick came off the bar.
His distribution is perhaps what he needs to work on most if he is to remain first choice.
Kimanzi likes his team playing from behind just like in the second half and this requires a keeper who is comfortable with the ball on his feet.
Matasi is far from that and this aspect could give younger keepers an edge over him. Ulinzi Stars' Timothy Odhiambo and Wazito's Kelvin Omondi are knocking on the door and Kimanzi could be tempted to explore those options if Matasi's distribution doesn't improve.
Ian Otieno, based in Zambia, also comes to mind.
4. Erick Ouma's future looks bright
There was no Abud Omar, the first choice left back in recent times, but there was little concern for Kimanzi. Erick Ouma showed why he is the rightful heir to Omar with a solid performance on the left.
He capped it with a brilliant run that bore the equaliser after he left three players in his wake then slid the ball to Ayub Timbe who found Muguna. Nicknamed Marcelo by Gor Mahia fans, he remarkably told Nation Sport that he is a different player from the one that wowed K'Ogalo faithful in 2016.
On evidence of Sunday's performance, Ouma has finally come of age. He came to Kenya's rescue with well timed clearances which showed his insight and ability to read the game have gone a notch higher.
With Kimanzi keen to explore his array of attacking talent by fielding gifted ball players on the offensive wings, the tactic of fielding both Omar and Ouma on the left will be a thing of the past. Only one of them will start at left back with either Timbe or Eric Johanna starting ahead of them.
One thing Marcelo has mastered is grabbing his chance. He did it at Gor and Abouba Sibomana was forgotten and finally released. The 22-year-old stated his case against Uganda and it looks like Kimanzi will have a good problem when both Ouma and Omar are fit and available.
5. Olunga alone can't take us to Afcon
Michael Olunga is undoubtedly the best striker in the country. He was twice denied by Charles Lukwago and the upright on an afternoon that he really didn't turn up by his lofty standards.
He scored two goals in the last Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign and had a similar tally in the tournament proper.
Statistically, there is no better striker in the current generation. While Olunga has the size, finesse and eye for goal he needs a partner to share the goal getting duties with especially when he is marked out of the game.
John Avire showed he could be that partner in this year's Afcon but little has been heard of him since then at least on the pitch.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Kipkirui has emerged as a dependable striker at Gor but whether he can play alongside Olunga at the national team remains to be seen.
Masoud Juma is yet to settle in Algeria but remains another viable option. Then there is Jesse Were who has everything Olunga has apart from luck at national team level.
Kimanzi needs to get another source of goals before the 2021 Afcon qualifiers begin in November.

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