Harambee Stars kick started their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign with an impressive 1-1 draw against Egypt away in Alexandria on Thursday.
While many had predicted the hosts would whitewash Kenya, Harambee Stars defied the odds to gain a vital point and were arguably the better side and had more scoring chances.
Harambee Stars arrive in the country on Saturday afternoon and head straight to camp ahead of the Monday evening game against Togo in Kasarani. Here are the five lessons we picked from the draw against Egypt.
1.Harambee Stars can actually play beautiful football
The Harambee Stars team under immediate former coach Sebastian Migne employed a very cautious approach especially when playing against the so called big teams, but against Egypt, we saw the Francis Kimanzi-led charges taking the game to the Pharaohs, attacking relentlessly and pressing whenever they lost the ball. Truly the best way to defend is to attack.
2. Lawrence Juma is underrated
That Francis Kimanzi likes Gor Mahia midfielder Lawrence Juma is not a secret anymore. The former Nzoia Sugar player has clearly claimed his place in the starting 11 and was a beast in the middle of the park alongside captain Victor Wanyama and the evergreen Johanna Omolo.
He dropped back to help in defending and initiated attacks from deep in Kenya’s half, one that actually led to the equaliser by Michael Olunga.
He is a good passer of the ball and has got lungs of steel, little wonder he’s won the heart of coach Francis Kimanzi.
3. Victor Wanyama still got something in him
Victor Wanyama is enduring tough times at English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. After battling a niggling knee injury, the Harambee Stars captain has found playing time had to come by atthe North London side that has been keen to offload him. His performances for the national team too haven’t been inspiring as well in the recent past, but against Egypt he proved doubters wrong with his commanding display, testament enough that an injury-free Wanyama is still a force to reckon with in midfield.
4. We have good squad depth
With early injuries to regulars Ayub Timbe and goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, Harambee Stars introduced Cliff Nyakeya and Ian Otieno and they both did well.
Nyakeya was actually instrumental in the equalising goal as he provided the assist. Kenneth Muguna, who came in for Johanna Omolo later, also gave a good account of himself.
This proves that we have good squad depth and the competition for places in the team is high. This is healthy for the team.
5. Kimanzi is a master tactician
Kenya registered their highest ever Fifa ranking in 2008, rising to position 68 under coach Francis Kimanzi and while many questioned his return to the team, he is slowly winning their hearts back with a team that is playing beautiful football.
Despite the off-pitch drama surrounding Harambee Stars, Kimanzi has managed to hold the team together and this seems like a good start to yet another stint for Kimanzi.