Lack of depth in squad clear in Stars' friendly encounters

Tuesday June 18 2019

Harambee Stars striker Masoud Juma takes part in a training session at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi on May 28, 2019 ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations finals set for Egypt from June 22-July 19. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Harambee Stars striker Masoud Juma takes part in a training session at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi on May 28, 2019 ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations finals set for Egypt from June 22-July 19. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

CELLESTINE OLILO
By CELLESTINE OLILO
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Judging by the two friendly matches Harambee Stars have played over the last two weeks, it is apparent that all the players whose call-ups drew widespread criticism will need to step up their performances at the Africa Cup of Nations that kicks off on June 21.

Forwards Masoud Juma and Ovella Ochieng, coming in off the bench, displayed unsatisfactory performances against both Madagascar and Democratic Republic of Congo, while goalkeepers Farouk Shikhalo and John Oyiemba saw zero minutes of play time in both games.

Both Shikhalo and Oyemba have zero international caps, and they played no role in the two games when some minute time for either of them looked reasonable.

This provoked the question just how much faith Migne has in their capabilities?

Kenya’s first choice goalkeeper, Patrick Matasi, was once again guilty of poor judgement that saw Kenya concede a late equaliser in their match against DR Congo on Saturday night.

He led a feeble ground ball inexplicably run past him just the same way he did against Ghana four months ago during their final Afcon qualifying game in Accra.

“Matasi is a quality and reliable keeper but he lets in cheap goals which is a concern. He seems to struggle with ground balls and that is something the Kenyan technical bench should practice on. But he is good on shot stoppers and can be an asset to Kenya on crosses and penalties,” said Aime Ndizeye goalkeeper coach Ethiopian club St George, where Matasi plies his trade.

Juma and Ovella’s selections to the national team drew the most criticism from local football enthusiasts, and their display as second half substitutes against Madagascar and DR Congo gave sceptics plenty of fonder.

Juma has not played any competitive game since October last year and it showed in the lethargic performance he doled out after coming in for the assured Michael Olunga.

He was selected at the expense of Kakamega Homeboyz striker Allan Wanga and Zesco United forward Jesse Were, but he had little impact especially against DRC on Saturday night.

In the four days remaining before the start of the tournament, Juma will be required to improve tremendously and deliver convincing performances befitting of his status as second in command after Olunga.

The story is the same for Ovella, who failed to make an impact in both matches, despite being tasked with the important role of supplying the lead striker with the balls.

Playing his position as the winger, Ovella had no shot on target and was guilty of several blind crosses unlike Ayub Timbe, who delivered a glittering performance and, who was smack in the middle of Stars goal in the 1-1 draw with DRC.

In his Sweden base Vasalund, his performance, having been selected ahead of Mathare United’s Cliff Nyakeya, who has scored 32 goals in the last two seasons, is now a source of deep worry especially because Timbe is injury prone.

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