Last updated 11 months ago | By Rodgers Eshitemi
Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi insists the national team is on the right track despite their under-par performance in Sunday’s 1-0 international friendly defeat to the Mambas of Mozambique at Kasarani Stadium.
Canhembe Amancio came off the bench to capitalise on Joseph Okumu’s defensive blunder and punish Stars’ wastefulness upfront with a beauty of a goal midway through the second half.
Though Kimanzi, who is on a rebuilding process after taking over the reigns from his immediate former boss Sebastian Migne in August, put on brave face after the match he admitted they still have a lot of work to do ahead of next month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers.
The Dutch-trained coach made a couple of changes to the squad that held Uganda to a thrilling 1-1 draw in last month’s friendly. Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder Victor Wanyama returned to captain the team together with Sweden-based centre half Joseph Okumu as Zesco United forward Jesse Were made a comeback since being overlooked for the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt.
“We had a better first half, we did a good job and created some good opportunities to kill off the game too early but I think we waited too long until we were punished,” Kimanzi bemoaned.
“The only part we got it wrong is when a younger player makes such a mistake at this level for sure you will be punished.
“Anyway, all in all, if I look at the game in general, I’m very satisfied because in the process of rebuilding sometimes you can tumble. However, that doesn’t mean you have fallen, but we are happy with the development process. Though sometimes we look at the reflection of the result at the national team, we also need the process to be complete.”
This was Stars’ last friendly match ahead of next month’s qualifiers.
Kenya begin their qualifying campaign with a tricky away match against the Pharaohs of Egypt in Cairo, on November 11 before entertaining the Sparrowhawks of Togo at Kasarani on November 19.
Asked if he is concerned with the result ahead of the two fixtures against Egypt and Togo, Kimanzi said:
“Of course the mindset is different if you get to score and they get a win is huge concern. However, we are not so much worried about that because those will be different games with different objectives. This match was an avenue to give our most important players an opportunity before the qualifiers.”