The Africa Cup of Nations is upon us with countries from the North, Central, East, West and South of Africa all in contention to be the best in Africa. An extravaganza that showcases talent from all of Africa! Friday night saw an opening ceremony full of pomp and color followed by hosts Egypt vs Zimbabwe match. Its a tournament that brings the best 24 teams in the continent an increase from the previous tournament that had 16 teams.
With North African countries boasting the most success in the tournament with 10 champions since the inception of the tournament. Kenya played their first match Sunday night against Algeria. After watching this game my two cents is that we still have a lot to do to improve our quality of football. Harambee Stars players couldn’t even string complete passes especially in the first half! Having not participated in the tournament for 15 years more was expected from this team basically because they had all the preparations needed and also had a training camp in France which was a bizarre option due to the temperature difference between France and Egypt!
Dennis Odhiambo had a horrific showing in the evening where his clumsy hurried tackle on Youcef Atal in the box resulted to a penalty which was converted by Baghdad. It was proving to be a difficult evening for the 34 year old in the first half having given away four free kicks during the game—no one else conceded more! There was slight improvement in the second half after the introduction of Johanna Omolo which proved to be too little too late with Mahrez having already scored a second goal. Omolo provided control and stability which Kenya lacked and Odhiambo failed to provide. Another concern is in the goal keeping department with Migne having total trust in Patrick Matasi who has had Karius-like howlers in recent times yet there is lack of viable alternatives with both substitutes either inexperience or something else.
Adding salt to injury Stars are already in a difficult group together with Algeria, Senegal and Tanzania with both Senegal and Algeria looking more technically superior! Tanzania on the other hand had another horrific performance against Senegal which might pose some hope for Harambee Stars but then again Taifa Stars can pose as an unpredictable lot. Going forward Migne has to find balance in team selection and facing Tanzania is a must win if there is any hope for this team to progress.
All in all I’m looking forward to all the talent that Africa has to offer!