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Defensive frailties haunt Harambee Stars against Zambia

After Kenya’s defensive frailties away to Congo in their first match of the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifiers in June 14, a detailed report pointed out that Harambee Stars must work on their defence if they are to reach the finals in Gabon.

The report pointed out that Stars needed to have a rock-solid defence, a dynamic and enterprising midfield and a clinical strike force.

Fast forward to last Sunday, it was evident that not much has changed in the team.

Having drawn 1-1 with Congo away, the general expectation among local fans was for Stars to win all their home matches, win one match away and draw one to confirm their place in the finals of the 2017 edition of the biennial competition.

Zambia are continental giants, but the side that outclassed Stars 2-1 on Sunday, was not anywhere close to the coherent unit that lifted the African title in 2012, when they beat Cote d’Ivoire in the final.

Zambia’s inspirational goalie Kennedy Mweene and his team mates Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala and Chisamba Lungu were  the only survivors of Zambia’s 2012 squad.

However, Kenya’s poor performance started with poor preparations and continued with a poor game plan and fielding.

Kenya’s defence against Zambia was shaky. David ‘Calabar’ Owino, for a long time the rock of the team, was not at his best. His marker, Chipolopolo skipper Kalaba, turned him inside out with relative ease in a number of occasions while at the heart of defence, Lawrence Olum and Brian Mandela struggled to hold.

Left back Dennis Odhiambo also struggled while Stars’ central midfield partnership of Victor Wanyama and Collins Okoth had no creativity even as Coach Bobby Williamson stuck to a rigid 4-4-2 formation.

Williamson and his deputy Musa Otieno have a lot of work to do before Kenya travel to Guinea Bissau in March for their next match.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of changing positions to win. We need to go back to the drawing board and correct our mistakes. They (Zambia) came, had a game plan, scored and won,” Otieno said after the match.