It has taken me time to put my thoughts together after watching Kenya draw with an average Ethiopia national team to bow out CHAN (Championship of African Nations) a tournament reserved for local based players. One word kept ringing in my mind average.
I left the stadium without a single memory of exceptional play by any of our players.
I will spare national team coach Bob Williamson the blame; with the kind of players we have the man sitting on the technical bench is irrelevant, at least for now. The best you can do is to work with what you have. Another thing that should be a wakeup call is the standard of our league. CHAN is a good tournament to gauge the standard of local leagues and ours is definitely wanting.
To begin with, comparing the fans who watched Ethiopia beat us 2-0 two weeks earlier and the fans at Nyayo Stadium, you are left with many questions. I will not blame the fans for poor turn out but players. When Reinhard Fabisch was in charge of the national team, we never won every match but the players played good football and fans came to watch them. If our players played good football, the fans will show up.
Defense is one area I never have a problem in our national team. A small fine tuning and you have a tight back line. We are defensive people by nature so it is one department we can always do better. It was reassuring to see Musa Mohammed and Harun Shakava partner in front of Boniface Oluoch in goal, they brought their good club form into the team. Denis Odhiambo and Edwin Wafula were good on the flanks. Apart from the defense, everything else went wrong.
The midfield and forwards were wanting. Bob Williamson played three attacking midfielders in Ali Abondo, Kevin Kimani and Humphrey Mieno but it did not bear fruits. I have said our players are average, and this is evident in the two areas I have mentioned above. At individual level, you will notice some brilliance but football is a team sport. There was too much activity and less productivity in the two departments. This is an area we need to nurture players in from an early age.
We had a fair share of dead ball situations including a penalty which we all wasted. There is no better proof for my average tag than this. Our players must rise to standards that will allow them to compete at a higher level. Free kick is one area we need a magical player in. If we can convert one free kick and a corner in a match and defend well, we are home and dry.
I know everyone will want to heap blame on FKF leadership. As much as I will not exonerate them from the mess in our football, we must ask ourselves what we are doing from where we are. At a bare minimum, we will never have magicians at the helm of Kenyan football, so we must learn to get results with what we have. Ethiopia was an average side that we could beat 3-0.
Average, is our undoing. When our football is average, it means all of us are average. Average fans, technical bench, clubs and average playing surface. We need a thorough look at how to transform our football or else, we can begin to get used to these shameful first round exits.