Positions vacant in Harambee Stars squad

Published on 18/10/2008

By Robin Toskin

Most of the people who watched the Kenya versus Guinea match last Sunday would tell you there are vacancies in Harambee Stars’ playing unit.

Vacancies crying out to be filled but nobody is there to grab them.

The 3-2 score line in favour of Guinea in Conakry looks respectable until you hold it up against individual performances. When watching them play, you get the feeling some of these players are contented.

They are assured of places even if they don’t give a wee bit of commitment. But the question is who has assured these players of their places? Coach Francis Kimanzi? I doubt. KFF? No. I doubt they even know the first eleven of the national team.

My considered opinion is that fellow players and especially the Kenyan Premier League ones have.

I will not speak for coach Kimanzi because I hate the indignity of speaking for others, but I think privately he must have felt let down by the way his charges let in simple goals against Guinea.

Yes, questions should be asked about Kimanzi’s strategy for the match and in particular the manner in which the players went about defending.

Was the strategy to mark spaces or to man mark?

You could neither tell it as Guinea raced to a 3-0 lead. Ismael Bangoura had all the space and time to smash in the opener. Kamil Zayate and Mamadou Bah were allowed free headers from corner kicks.

Let us put aside the tactics for now because it would be naÔve to think the coach wanted Harambee Stars to lose.

I think there is no hunger for successes among our players in the Kenyan Premier League. It may sound a contradiction that whereas competition is so stiff in the league, it is one among mediocre players.

Not working hard enough

It is an open secret that left-back John Njoroge has been terrifyingly out of form at club level and tellingly it reflected in Conakry. But it is not a crime to be out of form. Even best players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas or Samuel Eto’o can suffer a dip in form. It is a bad patch every footballer’s career.

Edgar Ochieng, my best local central defender of this decade, too is going through a slump just as is teammate Austin Makacha. Captain Robert Mambo’s last two outings for Stars is nothing to write home about. Allan Wanga is not the finished article and neither is Patrick Oboya.

But who said Harambee Stars is for Oboya, Denis Oliech, Noah Ayuko or Njoroge’s? Where are the other KPL players?

I submit that KPL players are not working hard enough. I watch matches week in week out and I must say the local players are not doing enough to fight for positions in the national team.

The goalkeepers seem to be resigned to the idea that Arnold Origi is the best and they will bid their time until the KF Moss man retires.

Harambee Stars struggled to penetrate Namibia defence but with Oliech back for the Guinea match, there was mobility.

For those who watched Agro Chemical’s 2-1 win over Tusker a fortnight ago will tell you how many chances were created at both ends you will understand what I am talking about.

The Mahakama-Chemelil clash was a comedy of errors. It took an opportunistic John Baraza goal to swing the match in favour of Chemelil.

When was the last time Sony Sugar won by more than three goals. Wait until I rummage through folders. Sincerely I don’t remember.

—The writer is the Standard’s Deputy Sports Editor

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