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African Nations Championship

Harambee Stars put Kenya to shame after Chan 2020 debacle

02:15 GMT+3 08/08/2019
Kenya players react v Tanzania.
What next for coach Sebastien Migne and his side after their elimination from the African Nations Championship qualifiers?

For the sixth time in a row, the Harambee Stars will miss the African Championship of Nations after being eliminated during the qualifiers.

Sebastien Migne's side were eliminated from the competition, which will be hosted in Cameroon next year, by Tanzania, who won 4-1 in the penalty shoot-out following a barren draw over the two legs.
The closest Harambee Stars came to take part in the competition was in 2018, when they had been picked as the host nation, but failure to provide adequate facilities saw the country stripped off the hosting rights by the Confederation of African Football, with Morocco taking the mantle instead.
When Kenya were paired against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania in the 2020 Chan qualifiers, there was a ray of hope that finally, they would go all the way to qualify for the competition.

However, this turned out to be false hope.

So where did it go wrong for the talented Kenyan side which, on paper at least, has what it takes to dominate?
It started with the selection, where the technical bench got things wrong from the start, overlooking players who could have made a difference.

Kenyan Premier League CEO Jack Oguda says the performance by Harambee Stars was way below the quality of the league.

“We have a quality league and you can [also look] to Gor Mahia’s performances on the continent," Oguda told Daily Nation. "Kariobangi Sharks too, have recently played very well against Everton and Asante Kotoko.

“Kenya would have been stronger if the coach included top performers in our league like [Allan] Wanga and [Nicholas] Kipkirui against Tanzania,” he concluded.

The coach's tactics on the day were also questionable; why did he instruct players to play defensively at home, for example?

The tactic worked in favor of the visitors; they soaked the pressure well and could have even snatched a goal from open play.
Taifa Stars head coach Etienne Ndayiragije was surprised by Kenya's tactics, saying his side deserved to win.

“I knew from the word go Kenya [would] play an attacking game now they were the home team, but when I realised they are pulling back as if defending, I told my players to change the style,” Ndayiragije told Goal.

“We should have won the match in normal time because we created several chances and even the final chance for John [Bocco] which he failed to convert after beating the Kenya keeper, should have sealed the tie for us.”

How could Migne possibly justify taking such a negative stance at home?

Finally, the players who were given a chance underperformed, and did little to show their worth, with Joash Onyango, Kenneth Muguna and Dennis Odhiambo the rare exceptions.

John Oyemba was nervous at the back, Mike Kibwage looked lost, Clifton Miheso seemed overly keen to prove how good he is, Sydney Lokale looked indecisive, while Whyvonne Isuza put on a horrifying show. What was Duke Abuya even doing on the pitch?!

Are these truly the best players who Kenya could field when desperate for a win?

The thousands of fans who turned out to support the team were left frustrated and ashamed; this was not the result they were expecting.

Coach Migne later admitted his team lacked some maturity as he was without several players who were originally in his plans for the competition, but signed for new teams during the current transfer window.

“Cliff [Nyakeya], Francis [Kahata] and Farouk [Shikalo] were part of my plans, but the current transfer window affected us,” Migne told Goal after the elimination.

“We had to find alternatives, unfortunately, it did not go as planned.

"It was not easy to prepare for the game because of the tactics involved," he added. "Money is not an excuse for the loss, we lacked maturity despite giving a few players a chance.”

Poor planning

A top source from Football Kenya Federation hinted to Goal the players’ dues, including allowances, had not been settled.

Unlike the team which represented Kenya at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the Chan side was overlooked.

“We are struggling financially and have not even paid players their allowances, we are waiting for Fifa to send us some money to enable us to settle some of the debts,” our source revealed.
Going into an important match like these qualifiers, the players may well have needed to have felt like the federation cared about them a little more, particularly considering the fact the Afcon team had left Egypt with a small fortune.

Financial issues aside, what does failure for the Stars mean for the country as well as the players?

For the sixth time in a row, the KPL's finest will miss the chance to feature at the tournament, which represents an ideal platform for players in local leagues to showcase their talents.

They will instead watch their continental rivals battle it out and reap the financial rewards.

Fans of the KPL also miss the opportunity to see how the division's top stars perform against the pick from the continent's other leagues.

Had Kenyan talents shown what they could do against the cream of the crop from the rest of Africa, they could have silenced some of the questions about the division's worth that continue to linger.

Instead, their loss once again serves to dent the reputation and standing of the top flight.

Questions should be channeled to the FKF; fans have the right to know why the team have not made it despite massive support from many of the stakeholders.

It's not the time to keep quiet; questions should be asked about the selection and why some players were overlooked despite their undoubted quality.
The ability of coach Migne to help the country to develop should also be questioned after his recent failures.

His tactical awareness was badly exposed against Tanzania in the two legs, on the back of Kenya's early Afcon exit, and it remains to be seen whether he is the right man to get the best out of this generation of players.