OKUMBI’S VERDICT: Harambee Stars coach says Starlets lacked experience for AWCON duty

Kenya Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi against Liberia during their International friendly at Kasarani Stadium on Tuesday 15/11/16. Kenya won 1-0.PHOTO.BONIFACE OKENDO

Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi has given his thoughts on Harambee Starlets dismal performance in this year’s Africa Women Cup of Nations in Limbe, Cameroon.

Okumbi, who has been working as the women’s team advisor on their continental debut, blamed inexperience for their early elimination.

Kenya, who were facing nine champions the Super Falcons of Nigeria in their final Group B match last night, lost to Ghana and Mali by an identical score line of 3-1.

But having followed the matches from the terraces like any other fan, the 35-year old coach gave his own assessment of Starlets’ performance with a thorough dissection of what went right and wrong.

“My role here was just to encourage players and assist them in training sessions. It has not been a bad tournament even though unfortunately we lost our opening two matches against Ghana and Mali,” Okumbi told Feverpitch.

“However, I think this has been a good exposure and experience for the players. But I believe we did better in the Ghana game than Mali because we played well and created many chances.

“We were good than the Ghanaians but the problem is just that they utilised the chances they created. We also had our moments in that game, but we didn’t utilise all of them. There was also some relaxation after we scored the opener.”

The coach, however, said it was somehow tough against Mali because they were good on and off the ball; all their reactions were superb.

He said Mali were not good on paper but coming on the pitch they were good especially on the first ball action.

He said Starlets players were a bit slow on the first ball while the opponents were fast both on and off the ball and that was the main undoing.

With more good international matches and competitive league, the Harambee Stars coach feels the players can build on the AWCON experience in their future assignments.

“What I have learnt from this tournament is that we need to engage our players with as many competitive matches as possible. We should also make sure there is an active league because everything starts with the league.

“If the league is active, then we will get more good players for future assignments.

“But I still think it was a good lesson for our players as we now know how strong African teams play,’’ Okumbi said.

Meanwhile, Banyana Banyana stormed into the semifinals after walloping the Pharaohs of Egypt 5-0 in their last Group A match in Limbe, Cameroon, on Friday, Supersport reports.

Goals from Andisiwe Mcgoyi, Nothando Vilakazi, Refiloe Jane, Linda Motlhalo and Jermaine Seoposenwe gave the South Africans all the three points plus a massive boost following a second-half goal glut which stunned the Egyptians.

Mcgoyi opened the scoring in the 28th minute when she managed to tap the ball into an empty net after some great play from the right wing by Nompumelelo Nyandeni to take a slender 1-0 lead at halftime.

Nyandeni, who played a big role in creating the opening goal, was substituted for Refiloe Jane in the 59th minute after a bad knock.

A minute later Nothando Vilakazi scored the second goal for the South Africans after some miscommunication between the Egyptian centre backs and her goalkeeper.

Refiloe Jane, who had just got onto the pitch, was granted a golden opportunity in the 62nd minute and did not hesitate when she put the ball in the back of the net for Banyana’s third goal.

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