Congratulations are in order for the Harambee Stars for winning the 2013 Gotv Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup which has been elusive for the last 11 years. The win was a perfect gift for Kenyans who were celebrating 50 years of independence.
The team was composed of locally based players who have also shined at their respective clubs in the Kenyan Premier League. The kind of display that Harambee stars showed in the entire tournament is a sure manifestation that our league has greatly improved.
Looking at the team that won this tournament and in comparison with previous Harambee stars squads, we now have key players that should form the backbone of future Harambee stars assignments. We must therefore ensure that these players stick together and play more games for cohesion.
In the goalkeeping department, Duncan Ochieng performed fairly well but we need to test other goalkeepers who have performed at the club level but have never been tested at the national team level. Gor Mahia’s Jerim Onyango was voted the best goalkeeper in the KPL last season but did not future in any match at CECAFA.
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In defence, we already have stability in the central area with Jokins Atudo and David Owino. Their combination was superb. They provided a backline that was as solid as a rock. On the left back for the first time Harambee stars had a natural and effective player in Aboud Omar. He was exceptional with his speed and recovery instincts being his greatest assets.
On the right back, we have always had options but Musa Mohammed and James Situma performed very well in that position. They must be maintained in the team.
On the midfield we have a galaxy of stars. Teddy Akumu was on his best elements throughout the tournament. He provided unrivaled leadership in the holding midfield position and was in control of each and every game. Peter Opiyo and Francis Kahata provided creativity and supply to the strikers with balls. Kahata’s dribbling skills was vital in stabilizing the midfield. Opiyo’s combination with Kahata is Godsend. Such creative midfielders is what Harambee stars has lacked in recent times.
The striking department was also sharp. Allan Wanga and Jacob Keli were exceptional. Their scoring instincts were unrivaled. Wanga was the man of the match at the finals with two goals to his name. That was memorable. Edwin Lavatsa was another figure that was lethal upfront. His speed and passing prowess ensured that the strikers got killer crosses that resulted into goals.
Despite the win, the team did not have it easy. They were never paid their allowances in time, locked at hotel rooms and lacked proper kits. These are issues that the federation must work on if we want to win more tournaments.
African cup of nations qualifiers are starting next year. We need to maintain this team plus the coach and provide them with all necessary support to qualify for the tournament. We have the ingredients to win the African title.