Kenya vs. Congo Preview + Stats vs. Bissau

We are technically out of Afcon. It will take more than a miracle, and strange things happen in football, to see us go through. We face a tough opponent in Congo. How we managed to get a draw away from home still baffles me as much as how we lost to Guinea Bissau over two legs.

Possible line-up

I expect to see Bonny in goal. Origi’s performance for the national team has been questioned time and again. We can’t really compare the two objectively since none of us can claim to be watching the Norwegian league. So we inevitably compare Bonny’s performance for Gor Mahia to Origi’s performance in the National Team. It’s not a fair comparison but it’s all we have for now and Bonny’s winning even though the latter isn’t with the team currently.

Only Wanyama and Akumu are assured of a place in the starting eleven. The rest of the positions are basically dependent on the manager’s game plan. We saw Mieno joining them in the middle last week, a trivote’. I may like to see Eric Johana in the number ten role but he has been playing on the flanks in a few games. But we have three pacey players there too in Paul Were, Ayumb Timbe and Miheso. People have criticized Jesse Were’s performances for the national team saying that he doesn’t score as much as he does for club level. Will he be preferred over Olunga? Don’t think so but I see the possibility of Okumbi playing both of the upfront where both

In defense, I would prefer playing with Mandela and Atudo in the middle with Calabar and Aboud Omar flanking them. Though Eric Ouma has shown that he isn’t shaken by the big stage, he is still a rookie and I think we should go for the more experienced Aboud. But again it will depend on how the manager wants to play. Bringing on Eric means that we have two attackers on the left flank. He’s so good going forward.

So my final line-up will be with a four-four two formation: Bonny, David Owino, Mandela, Atudo, Aboud Omar, Timbe, Wanyama, Akumu, Olunga, Jesse Were.

Stats from our previous games

Let’s take a look at how we played against Guinea Bissau over the two legs.

Kenya vs Guinea Bissau (Away)

1st half                                                                                  2nd Half

Crosses (3) 9   33%                                                           3) 9    33%

Long Pass (13) 32    41%                                                  (6) 14   43%

Short Pass (108) 112   96%                                              (93) 98   95%

Passes in the Final 3rd (17) 22       77%                           (20) 27   74%

Long Ball attacks (9) 26       35%                                       (6) 14     43%

Shots On-3                                                                             On- 2

Off-none                                                                       Off – 1

Through Ball (1) 2 in the whole game.

The bracketed figures show the successful attempts of the stat while those outside it shows the total number of attempts. For example, In the first half 17 of 22 passes in the final third were successful.The percentages simply show the success rate of the give stat.

 Kenya vs. Guinea Bissau (Home)

 1st Half

 Long Pass (8) 26       31%

Short Pass (182) 188     97%

Passes in the Final 3rd (34) 41   83%

Shots On – 1

Off – 2

Through balls – 2

Build-up   Long- 16

Short – 13

Crosses – (3) 9

The build up stats shows the number of times we played long balls vs. short ones in our build up. ie. when we played the ball long vs. when we passed our way from the back, through the midfield and into the final third. And thus the passes in the final third stats, which, well, show how efficient we were in the final third.

Lack of technical ability to play long balls

From the above we can see that the number of long passes significantly increased. But key to note is that even the success rate reduced. In the away game, although the success rate of the long balls increased in the second half, it is important to note that we attempted fewer passes 14 against 32 in the first half. Overall, we simply see that the number of successful long balls played was low which definitely points out to the fact that we don’t have the technical ability to play long balls. For all the talk from your football analysts and renowned journalists of how we have technical players, the data simply doesn’t support it. So Kenyan players have to work on this.

What is more worrying is that in the three matches (including our qualifier against Zambia at home), Origi only played on successful long ball in both free and goal kicks.

 A Long ball Nation

We have often been criticized that we are a nation that builds up play by playing long balls to our forwards as opposed to playing it through the three thirds of the pitch. While we can’t conclusively say this from one half of one game, we can at least see that the stats agree with this notion. I have no problems with building up play by playing long balls, Egypt does this so well but unlike us, their players have the technical ability to play the ball long.

Passes in the final third

What encourages me is that despite the lower success rate in the passes played in the final third in the second half of the away game 74% against 77%, we not only attempted more passes 27 vs. 22, but more were successful 20.

Even more encouraging is that in the home game we increased our attempted passes to 41. It’s the reason we enjoyed watching that game. Heck, when was the last time we saw Kenya play that well?

Red Flags

The obvious one is that we need to improve in passing our long balls. Secondly, how pathetic our crosses are. If we only found our target men with our crosses, we would be posing a serious threat to the opposition. Third, make use of our creative players, the Eric Johanas and kina Tosh. That we had only 2 through balls with such creative players is really worrying. Finally, take more shots on goal.

We should approach it as a means to improving our FIFA rankings seeing that we have dropped 13 places after the last two games we played. Seeing that we are 4th with only a point, we are logically out of the tournament unless we beat both Congo and Zambia (away). It is a huge task and we face a very good side today as seen Ottamax told us.

All the best to #teamkenya