Goal.com Kenya writer David Kwalimwa agrees with Harambee Stars French coach Henri Michel that the country's league lacks a 'natural finisher'One of the major reasons for Kenya's failure to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations tournament, could be narrowed down to two incidents that cropped up during the qualifiers.
The initial incident occurred midway the first half during the match against Angola in Luanda. Current AFC Leopards forward Allan Wanga (then based in Vietnam) conspired to fluff a chance to tap the ball in an empty net, after captain Dennis Oliech had done the ground work. The game was scoreless at that time in a match Kenya ended up losing by a solitary goal.
The other incident was the final group match against Uganda in Kampala. This time round, Dennis Oliech turned villian after weaving his way past the hosts' defence, rounding goalkeeper Dennis Onyango, then shooting at the side netting. The match ended goalless.
While those two incidents could then have been dismissed by most as a one off, recent comments attributed to the new Harambee Stars coach Henri Michel, to the effect that the Kenyan League lacks a 'natural finisher' left many wondering the connection between the two.
"I am yet to see a finisher in this league, that is one area we will try and work on in the run up to the CHAN Qualifiers." claimed the French coach.
As yet, nobody seems to have taken note of these comments, until Stewart Hall, the new Sofapaka coach echoed the almost the exact wording a few days later, albeit on a different template.
"We are so reliant on Barasa (John). Now that he is off form we suffer a bit." the English coach was quoted as saying after his side drew with relegation threatened Oserian over the weekend.
So what exactly is the problem? For starters, the current KPL top scorer's chart doesn't make good reading.
John Barasa, perhaps the only recognized finisher in the Kenyan Premier League, tops the table with 17 goals in the league.
This is the country's best return in the last five years. Other players who deserve mention include Kepha Aswani with 11 goals from 26 matches (with four of those coming from the same match, and one in the last nine games).
Big name strikers including Allan Wanga (7), Moses Arita (5), and Enock Agwanda (5) are to be found within the lower reaches.
It gets even worse when you look at the bigger scope. Tusker FC and Gor Mahia FC, the two teams tasked with representing the country in the regional and continental assignments were all eliminated in the first round - wait for this - without scoring a goal.
In the recent past, only two Kenyans Dennis Oliech (Auxerre, France) and Mike Okoth (Genk, Belgium) have managed to secure professional deals to feature as strikers in reputable leagues. Although its worth noting that Oliech was after sometime converted to a winger for his club, a position he has managed to strike a paltry 23 goals in 155 appearances.
With this information in hand, its safe to declare that Michel and Hall were closer to the truth that many of us would imagine. It is also important to extend the goal crisis to the rest of the country.
This brings to the most important part. The solution. Its encouraging to note that the national coach has taken responsibility in arresting the problem. The likes of Wycliffe Ochomo and Enock Agwanda represent the country's future and are currently part of his set up.
Other players whom deserve a chance include Kepha Aswani (Thika United), Moses Arita (Thika United) and Victor Ochieng' (AFC Leopards).
The players seem to require training on technique, positioning and shooting. The above examples illustrate that.
More emphasis could also be placed on the youth teams and players, and important tips seconded to the upcoming players. Who knows, this might be the missing link to the country's chase of glory.