Guniea Bissau vs Kenya, Long Balls and the Starting Line-up

Kenya started the qualifiers on a high note: drawing (1-1)away to Congo and we would have won were it not for Jackson Saleh handling the ball inside the 18-yard box. But we were beaten at home by Zambia and as a result we are 3rd in our group with 1 point and a -1 goal difference.

That defeat was blamed on lack of preparation, indiscipline (players partying on the eve of the game) and mostly delaying in payment of the players’ allowances. But with Nick Mwendwa at the helm that should never be an issue again as he’s repeatedly promised.

Stanley Okumbi has since been appointed and while I get the criticism he faces, I opt to give him the benefit of doubt. He has massive pressure to prove his critics wrong and a win will go a long way in silencing them.

Our opponents,Guinea, are last in the group and ranked 147th in the world. Not that we should underrate them but we have to take all three points if we are to get direct qualification and hope against all hope that Zambia and Congo draw in the two legs.

Long Balls, Kenya’s attacking tactic.

Everyone seems to think that we, Kenya, only play long balls. And they are right to some extent. Against Zambia, in the 1st half, 10 of 27 long passes were successful while 61 of 70 short ones were successful. In the 2nd half, 9 of 33 long passes were successful while 70 of 77 short were successful. (Don’t be fooled by the successful short passes we played since most were not played in the final third.) Not only are we not technical in our long passes, but more worrying is that it seems to be our only tactic when we attack as was seen in the 2nd half.

Yes, it makes sense, since we use Olunga as our target man but rather than using him to hold the ball and bring us in the game we play direct balls to him with the hope the he heads the ball into the net. Some may argue that his goal against Zambia came from a long ball but it was as a result of both poor defensive play and goalkeeping. Zambia corrected this and only one headed ball hit the target thereafter.

So it will be good to see us playing defense spliting passes since both Johanna Omollo and Eric Johanna will be starting. We should see more creativity from them and as earlier stated, we should use Olunga to get us into the game.

Starting Line-up Arnold Origi, Musa Mohammed, James Situma, Brian Mandela, David Owino, Patilah Omotto, Victor Wanyama, Eric Johanna, Clifford Miheso , Michael Olunga, Johanna Omollo.

It will be interesting to see how Patilah Omotto perfoms considering that everyone thinks that he was selected because of the coach’s and the President’s affiliation to his club, Kariobangi Sharks. A bad game from him and “football will have gone to the days of kujuana” will be the talk of town.

 

FEBRUARY FOOTBALL REVIEW

A summary if what happened in the football world in the month of February

Most important news first is that FIFA has a  new president in the man Gianni Infantino who among, other things, has promised to increase the number of teams participating in the World Cup and more importantly the number of African Countries form 5 to 7. Back home, our football delegates showed the rest of Kenya how we should vote by electing Nick Mwendwa who has immediately embarked on the task of getting us to the 2022 World Cup. And a youthful side is what he believes should do the job for us.

In the EPL, my team, Arsenal, continue to disappoint. The victories over Burnley, Bournemouth and even the spectacular one against Leicester weren’t enough to keep us at the top of the table as we drew against Soton and were painfully beaten by Chelsea and United. The later fielding players from their youth academy. It sort of watered down the victory against League Leaders Leicester who seem will wake up from their fairy tale at the while at the top come May.

Chelsea are still yet to lose a match under Hiddink, Mancity lost all matches while West Ham continue to pursue a top-four finish alongside United and Liverpool who as at now are separated from man city with just 6 points. Villa seem to have their fate sealed though, as we have seen this season, anything can happen since they only are 7 points below relegation. Most shocking is the fact that the Eagles (Crystal Palace) have only won one match in 2016.

The greatest highlight was when Messi did a Cruyff by laying off a penalty to Suarez in their 6-1 win over Celta. Considering that he did it when he had a chance to score his 300th goal makes it even more beautiful. People said it was disrespectful but I think we are so much inclined on the professional side of football that we forget that it doesn’t harm if in achieving that you throw in a bit of  entertainment.

Off the pitch, Serge Aurier decided to bite the hand that feeds him after stating all manner of expletives about his coach, the man who believed in him and brought him to the club, and his teammates. And that even some african greats are defending him continues to shock me. It was wrong and he knows it and defending him doesn’t do anything to help the young man as some think. You can’t say such things about any human being let alone your coach and teammates. How does he even face them during the training sessions even after his serves his suspension?

Cristiano also decided to be all to candid about why Real aren’t at the top of the La Liga table. And yes, we all let it slide ‘cause it’s Cristiano Ronaldo but to me that is very disrespectful to your teammates who look up to you as a leader.

That’s all for now. Promise you I will do it sooner than I have done this time.

Francis Kahata vs Posta Rangers

Francis Kahata is one of the best creative midfielders, or as waswahili say, viuongo wazalishaji,  we have in Kenya. I thus have made it my duty to collect his stats, just so that I can understand his game more. So here goes his stats vs Bandari.

Long Pass 5/9

Short Pass 33/37

Dribbles 7/8

Balls Lost 9

Balls Won 5

He only took one shot which was blocked.

Lost all 3 aerial duels but this can be understood since he isn’t that blessed with height but had 3 successful headers.

I would have loved to see him get into the thick of things in the final third. Several factors like, gelling with new teammates, among others which ,I accept, are beyond my conception, led to a quiet game.  the numbers don’t lie, he created only one chance but it would have counted were it not for Jacob Keli’s (aka Kasee`) poor first touch, which consequently to him missing the target.