Kenya's performance showcased a team rich in potential that just need to be harnessed with many appealing to the FA to build up on this resultKenya national team Harambee Stars may not have clinched this year’s edition of the regional (Cecafa) Cup, but the players and technical bench's performance and stature undoubtedly replaced the country’s expectations and offered hope heading into the future.
The home side fell to hosts and eventual champions Uganda Cranes 1-2 in an evenly fought battle. This was the second defeat for the team in the competition against the defending champions, who had also triumphed 1-0 in the opening engagement pitting the two sides.
For starters, the team that was under the tutelage of caretaker coach James Nandwa, were written off even before the tournament began and were not given a chance of sailing past the group stages.
In Group ‘A’, they were seeded alongside Bob Williamson coached Cranes, Ethiopia’s Black lions and debutantes South Sudan in what was arguably the group of death, but they weaved through to the last eight stage as group runners up.
A 2-0 victory over South Sudan, a 0-1 defeat to Uganda and a 3-1 drubbing of Ethiopia is all they needed to reach the quarters.
A 1-0 victory over Malawi Flames saw the increasingly confident second string side sail to the semis, where they gunned down Zanzibar Heroes 4-2 on post match penalties after a 2-2 draw in regulation and extra time, to guarantee a finals berth
Stars performance showcased a team rich in potential that just need to be harnessed with commentators largely in agreement that Kenya is a sleeping giant as far as the beautiful game is concerned.
Nandwa’s players also showed some team spirit in the tournament with many standing out in the good run. This team has been tipped to be the future of Kenya’s soccer which has perennially underperformed.
All said and done, the onus now lies with the Kenyan FA, to build up on this result and match expectations of the Kenyan fanatic.
Goal.com rates some of the stand out players.
Duncan Ochieng - Reliable between the posts, calm and composed. His experience played a key role in steering Stars to the finals. At fault for only one of the five goals Kenya conceded at the entire tournament - 8/10
Abdalla Juma –The Sofapaka left back proved just why he is one of the best in that position not only with his defensive, but offensive skills as well. - 8/10
Joackins Atudo- known for his tough tackles, the no nonsense defender never disappointed at the rearguard, in the process earning bookings in the final, but it was a price worth paying. -9/10
David Owino –The utility centre back lived up to his true potential in the tournament, before suffering set back when he was pulled out with hamstring injury in the finals. His contribution and meanness in defense helped propel the team to the grand finale. -8/10
Anthony Kimani- The skipper lived up to his duties on and off the pitch. However, his waterloo came when he conceded an own goal against Cranes in the finals. -8/10
Humphrey Mieno- Was no doubt the engine of the midfield, with precise feed, linking the defence to attack. A joy to watch with a great future ahead of him - 9/10
Clifton Miheso-Was clinical in front of goal and lethal with his left foot. His two goals proved key in Stars campaign. The gem of Kenyan football - 8/10
Mike Baraza- His wealth of experience played a crucial role as he ‘single-handedly’ fired Starts to finals at the expense of Zanzibar in the semis-9/10.
Rama Salim- His good runs and skills broke the stubborn Ugandan defense in the finals. 7/10
Edwin Lavatsa- Great speed and high work rate. He came in handy in pulling a goal for Kenya in the finals. 7/10.
Paul Were and Kevin Omondi-Save for the indiscipline case, they were important cog in the midfield.