Dim Stars have let us down, but all is not lost yet

Wednesday March 18 2020

Algeria's midfielder Adlene Guedioura (left) fights for the ball with Kenya's midfielder Francis Kahata during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo on June 23, 2019. PHOTO | JAVIER SORIANO |


Harambee Stars’ drab performance and loss to Algeria proved one salient point: That we have lots of talent in Kenya, but simply can’t employ these in the right places.

Frenchman Sebastien Migne endured a lot of criticism when he announced his final squad for Egypt, especially the fact that he overlooked experienced players with the capability of turning things round on the big stage.

As sports journalists, we are often accused of lacking patriotism by “failing to support” our national teams as they head out on international assignments.

In 2012, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya even wrote, in their post-Olympic Games report, that one of the reasons for Kenya’s failure to bag many medals was due to my “negative reporting.”

But who can turn a blind eye on Stars’ lethargic display on Sunday night? Should we play the “patriotic” card and clap for the team? Not at all! The bunch of jokers that turned out on Sunday let the country down.

As taxpayers who work to the bone to faithfully render to Ceaser what is his, we demand an overhaul of the starting 11 when we face Tanzania on Thursday.

Our taxes can’t be spent on a team that doesn’t have any respect for the national anthem, or flag, instead hacking strikers down in the box and conceding needless penalties, like Dennis Odhiambo did at the half-hour when he brought down Youcef Atal, the speedy youngster employed for his darting runs by Ligue 1 side Nice in the Cote d’Azul.

Odhiambo should be out of sight when we play Senegal in our final group game on Monday, because the mayhem Atal created will be replicated by the more lethal Keita Balde, another youngster from the French Riviera, hired by AS Monaco in the Principality but on loan to Inter Milan.

And with Uefa Champions League winner Sadio Mane joining Balde in the attack, I dread to imagine what the score line will read at the end of 90 minutes.

Left back Aboud Omar was another disaster on Sunday, but somewhat burst into life in the second half after Migne’s changes that saw classy Johanna Omollo inject some positive movement upfront.

That Stars had no shot on target provided some ammunition to the team’s critics who just couldn’t understand how and why one of the local league’s experienced top scorers, Allan Wanga, was ejected from the provisional side and club-less Masoud Juma’s passport stamped with the Egyptian visa.

Or indeed why on-song Jesse Were was also overlooked.

However - to avoid being branded “unpatriotic - there’s still hope for Victor Wanyama and his bunch of jokers when they take on equally lacklustre Tanzania on Thursday night.

This is a must-win game that will then see the Harambee Stars play for their lives against Senegal on Monday. I will stay up late on Thursday and hope the Stars shine.

Thank God, Norway will be up against England in the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals around the same time, and a poor performance by Migne and co will trigger a quick change of channels.

Go Harambee Stars!

Prove to us that Sunday’s was a deceptive performance.

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At the weekend, my employers handed me a plaque (and a cheque!) appreciating my 26 years of dedicated service to the Nation Media Group.

How time flies!

This wouldn’t have been possible without God’s guidance, and without the support from my family, friends, colleagues and you, respected readers.

Your constructive criticism and compliments, in equal measure, have kept me going.

Thanks and God bless you all.