On a day that fans stormed the pitch after Guinea Bissau scored a controversial goal against the run of play, so many thing s happened on that pitch that I believe Okumbi should take note. First things first, Kenya lost fairly so the idea of poor officiating we can rule out for now.
Then I bring to you Jokins Atudo. This is a man who has straddled the KPL for as long as I can remember but still going strong. On this day Atudo was the king pin of Harambee Stars squad. Good, because he did a good job, bad because Victor Wanyama could have done a better job as the team’s fulcrum from the midfield. Atudo completed more passes than any other player on that field, from a defensive role in a match where we camped in the opponents half. I bet any Statistician to disapprove my Stuttistics on Atudo.
The other thing is that we played with a high defense line, which means that our full backs automatically should have become wingers in such a formation. Situma tried to move forward, Denis Odhiambo did not risk as much. All this time the Guinea players sat back and soaked the pressure, their first shot at goal came midway through the second half. Paul Were and Clifford Miheso on the flanks did not know how to accommodate the overlapping full backs when they tried to do so.
Our lack of creativity also cost us the game. We only had one hub, Paul Were on the flanks and the Guinea Bissau defense did their best to keep him out of the box. The few times he managed to create a move, the effort went begging. Playing a three man midfield of Wanyama, Akumu and Omollo meant that Johanna Omollo was presumed to be the creative mind; unfortunately we played defensive midfielders who play central midfield as a second option. In other words, our midfield was composed of like-minded players, none complemented the other.
What this meant is that at one time when the ball is in the midfield, one of the three players got lost as they all subconsciously retreated to cover the defense. So Wanyama did not perform to his best, when our star player fails to perform, we lose. Okumbi must relegate Johanna Omollo to the bench for the other Johanna, Eric.
Then came the time the technical bench decided ‘kama mbaya ni mbaya’. Early in the second half, James Situma was rested for Jesse Were. This means that, Kenya plays with a three man defense. If the coach thought he had three defensive minded midfielders on the pitch, he was wrong because they did not complement each other. Guinea Bissau, saw this and started counter attacking as teams do when they sit back and soak the pressure. The three man defense started to show a drop in confidence. The problem is Guinea realized and kept up the counter attacks.
Then a limping Brian Mandela is brought off for Eric Johanna and soon Kenya concedes its first corner and a few minutes later Arnold Origi punches the ball that had crossed a few inches into his own net. Our goose was fried and served; I have never seen Kenya score under pressure. We created our chances, but failed to convert them and the visitors punished us for our few mistakes. That is called tactical football. The fans knew about this, and started to walk out of the stadium.
I commend Okumbi for taking the risk to play a three man defense, I castigate him for taking it too far by replacing Mandela with Eric Johanna and Musa Mohammed was on the bench. As much as Nick Mwendwa says that we are building a team, this act might kill Musa’s morale. Everybody makes mistakes, and the Bissau incident should not be used to punish a player who gives his all for the national team. Who will be punished for that painful goal in the dying minutes at Nyayo stadium? Musa should have been retained to show faith in him, now players will be doing their best to avoid mistakes rather than give their best.
The other factor is Wanyama; is he a natural leader? I doubt, he does not inspire and does not lead. He drifts off the match many times which is not good for the skipper. This means that the team must have another auxiliary leader to back him who can rally the squad into a fight. Then, the bench must watch Southampton matches and see the conditions under which he gives better shows in the EPL and replicate it in the national team. If not then the lion of Muthurwa will never play to his optimum with the national team.
Coaching the national team is more challenging than coaching a club. In a club you have time to experiment and make a few mistakes and correct them through a season. In the national team, you have very limited time to train and fetch good results. A slip like the one we had against Guinea Bissau happens and you have no chance of recovering. This means that FKF and KPL must work together to create more windows for the national team to train if we want to see results.
Lastly, I am upset we lost, but I am happy we went down fighting. That is the only reason I will vouch for Okumbi to keep his job. Even if we are used to poor performance, let he handle the two remaining matches against Congo at home and Zambia away.