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.



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