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Five things we learned from Kenya-Mozambique friendly

Monday October 14 2019

Kenya's striker Michael Olunga (right) vies for the ball with Mozambique's midfielder Kambala Manuel during their international friendly match at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on October 13, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

Kenya's striker Michael Olunga (right) vies for the ball with Mozambique's midfielder Kambala Manuel during their international friendly match at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on October 13, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

SAMUEL GACHARIRA
By SAMUEL GACHARIRA
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Francis Kimanzi tasted his first defeat in his third stint at the helm of national football team, Harambee Stars, after the 1-0 loss to Mozambique on Sunday.

Canhambe Amancio’s solo effort in the 68th minute handed Os Mambas the win in the process punishing a wasteful Kenyan side that ticked the right boxes in the first half.

After both sides struggled in the opening exchanges, Kenya gradually mustered the slippery surface at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani but were undone by poor finishing from star forward Michael Olunga which ultimately proved costly.

Here, Nation Sport presents five things we learned from Sunday's friendly.

Kimanzi needs a ‘Kenya One’ like yesterday

Faruk Shikalo, Patrick Matasi’s understudy for the past year, finally made his senior team debut against Mozambique but he did little to impress.

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Like Matasi against Uganda, Shikalo was jittery in between the sticks. He didn't command his area well and whenever he came off his line did not inspire confidence with the ball on his feet. 

It took Eric Ouma's intervention to prevent his debut turning into a calamity when Shikalo miscued a clearance while way off his line. 

Second chances are rarely offered at national team level and Kimanzi could now look elsewhere for a safe pair of hands.

Ian Otieno, who sat on the bench on Sunday, remains an option worth exploring given his fine form in Zambia. Then there is the tried and tested Arnold Origi who is still eligible for Kenya. 

Erick Ouma is the real deal

Erick Ouma is the epitome of grabbing opportunities. In the absence of Abud Omar in the last two friendlies, Ouma has been a standout performer for Harambee Stars. 

During his Gor Mahia days he never looked back after working his way into the first eleven and the Green Army eventually forgot about Abouba Sibomana. 

On evidence of his last two displays, Ouma has certainly made the left back position his own.

Adam "Adhos" Shaban, Tobias "Jua Kali" Ocholla stand out as Kenya's finest left backs and Ouma can now be mentioned along the same breath. 

Sports Kenya should step up

The lack of quality stadia in the country came back to haunt Kenya on Sunday as heavy rains rendered the Kasarani surface almost unplayable. 

Harambee Stars virtually had two opponents on the day, the slick Mambas and the slippery surface that made Olunga lose his footing twice when it mattered most. 

Kasarani has deteriorated from the verdant green surface that hosted Everton in July to an eyesore in just four months. 

With a home fixture against Togo due next month, it will be suicidal for Kenya to drop points at Kasarani because of a poor surface. The weatherman predicts that the rainy season may stretch to December and Sports Kenya have to prepare for the worst.

Even on a poor surface, Harambee Stars showed they can play good football but we cannot afford to take chances in a qualifier. The cream of football in this country deserve better.

Jesse Were needs more game time

Often crucified for not delivering in national team colours, Jesse Were began life after Sebastien Migne with a 20-minute cameo against Mozambique.

Were's inclusion was welcome after being snubbed by Migne who openly expressed his admiration for Masud Juma and John Avire ahead of the Zesco United star.

It's an open secret that Were's services will come in handy especially on a day when Michael Olunga fails to turn up (like against Mozambique) but he needs more time to state his case. 

Olunga is no doubt the preferred striker but there is no better way to prepare for qualifiers than planning for a worst case scenario.

The Mozambique clash showed how terrible Olunga's bad day in office can be. And if Were is the solution, he needs more playing time. 

Local cast will play a leading role in qualifiers

Local based players were given another chance to show their worth against Mozambique and from the lot, Lawrence Juma, Kenneth Muguna and Duke Abuya impressed. 

Kimanzi has shown that he is not afraid to give local based players a chance and just like in his first stint in 2008 any Kenyan Premier League (KPL) player who fits the bill will definitely play. 

Edgar "Fighter" Ochieng, Anthony "Modo" Kimani, Titus "Tito" Mulama, Austin "Tino" Makacha and Kelvin "Master" Ochieng are some of the local based players that featured in Kimanzi's 2008 team. 

If the last two friendlies are anything to go by, there is hope for the likes of Nicholas Kipkirui, Boniface Omondi, Abdallah Hassan, Mark Makwatta, Kevin Kimani and Enosh Ochieng ahead of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign.

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