Why Harambee Stars still have a long way to go

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga celebrates after scoring a goal during their 2026 World Cup Qualifiers Group F match against Seychelles at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.on November 20, 2023. [FKF Media]

Harambee Stars displayed an exhilarating performance on Monday night, dismantling Seychelles with a resounding 5-0 victory in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers match played at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Stars captain Michael Olunga showcased his prowess with two quick goals, setting stage for a dominant display by the Kenyan national football team.

Masud Juma added to the spectacle just before halftime, solidifying the lead at 3-0.

The second half saw Rooney Onyango score his first goal for the team in the 62nd minute, further extending their dominance.

Benson Omalla sealed victory with another goal in the 73rd minute, making it a historic win for Harambee Stars. This was the first time Kenya scored five goals since 2015 when they won 5-2 against Eritrea at the same stage.

However, despite the elation of this triumph, the reality of the challenges that lie ahead in the World Cup qualifiers cannot be overlooked.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat faces a significant task in addressing the team's conversion rate, a crucial aspect highlighted by the need for more goals against Seychelles.

Drawn into the formidable Group F alongside football powerhouses such as Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Burundi, and Seychelles, Kenya recognises the necessity of elevating their performance to compete on the world stage.

The victory against Seychelles was a commendable response after a disappointing start to the qualifiers, marked by a 2-1 loss to Gabon.

Despite the 5-0 win, the assertion that Kenya should have scored more goals against Seychelles underscores the urgency for improvement.

Ivory Coast's 9-0 victory in their match against Seychelles serves as a stark reminder that goal difference may play a critical role in the latter stages of the qualifiers, potentially haunting Kenya, if not addressed.

While captain Olunga shone with a brace, his missed opportunities, especially in one-on-one situations, indicates room for improvement.

Olunga's near misses, hitting the post, wild shots, and a few headers, suggests that the team's finishing needs refining, particularly in crucial moments.

Furthermore, the observation that players became overly selfish after achieving a 5-0 lead highlights the need for a more cohesive and strategic approach.

While hunger for goals is commendable, a balance must be struck to ensure effective teamwork and maximise on scoring opportunities.

However, coach Firat believes Kenya’s World Cup dream is still alive.

“This team has a bright future. We did not have a full team against Gabon and that is why we lost. I think Kenyan football now has a bright future. There is hunger and we don’t like to lose. We played two matches away and now look forward to make it nine points,” said Firat.

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