Olunga would have scored a couple of goals against Comoros – Kenya coach ‘Ghost’ Mulee

Kenya coach Jacob Mulee and Michael Olunga.Goal Kenya.

Harambee Stars coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee has openly admitted Kenya missed the services of striker Michael Olunga against Comoros in the Africa Cup of Nations double-header.

The towering striker was among the professionals summoned for the two matches but could not make it into the team after it emerged three players of his Japanese team Kashiwa Reysol and their head coach had tested positive for Covid-19.

All the Kashiwa Reysol players were then asked to self-isolate for 14 days thus ruling Olunga out of the Afcon qualifiers.

In the absence of Olunga, coach Mulee was left with three options – John Avire, who plays for Tanta SC in Egypt, Masoud Juma, who turns out for JS Kabylie in Algeria, and John Makwatta of Zesco United.

It is Juma who took the mantle to lead the Kenya side in both legs as he scored in the first meeting at home which ended 1-1 but he did not find the back of the net in the reverse fixture as Comoros won 2-1. Kenya’s lone goal came from winger Cliff Nyakeya.

Mulee has now told Goal the absence of the former Gor Mahia striker was felt during the two-legged affair.

“Olunga is a top striker, we all know him and we all know what he can do, and if you look at the chances we created, both in Kenya and away in Comoros, he could have scored a couple of goals,” Mulee told Goal.

“He [Olunga] is a striker who uses half a chance to score goals, so I must admit we missed his services a lot, he can turn a half-chance to score, he can score from nowhere, we really missed him.

“He is the engine of the team, Olunga is our key striker and his absence was indeed a blow but like I said before, we don’t have to cry over spilt milk, we must accept and move on and if possible use what we have.”

On why he pulled out Lawrence Juma for Kenneth Muguna in the away match, Mulee explained: “We did not substitute him [Juma] because he was playing bad…no, we removed him because he was very tired very early into the game and these things do happen.

“If you look out, the heat was very strong in Comoros and that is why you could see we used all the five substitutions we were given by Caf.

“The heat took a toll on many players, even Ayub [Timbe] was tired and we had to pull him out, but one thing I want people to understand is that most players who are in Kenya have not been active especially in the attacking area, if you look at Timbe he played for 45 minutes, Benson [Muchiri], there is no league in Kenya, and if you check on Masoud [Juma], they have not played, even Muguna.

“All the players are lacking match fitness, nine months without action, it leaves the coaches with a lot of work to do to come up with a good squad.”

After the loss, Kenya are now on three points after four Group G games, five points behind the islanders, and will host the Pharaohs on March 22 before wrapping up their campaign with a trip to Lome against Togo on March 30.