Kenya Coach Kimanzi ponders Ethiopia battle

Nairobi, Kenya – Kenya coach Francis Kimanzi was left scratching his head in disbelief as the best players he could assemble from the Kenyan Premier League went down 2-0 to Malawi in their CECAFA Tusker Cup opening game on Monday.

That immediately put Kenya in danger of yet another group stage elimination.

Harambee Stars’ fate will however get clearer after their match against a very good Ethiopian side on Wednesday from 2pm.

After a dominant opening spell against Malawi without scoring a goal, Kenya simply could not find a higher gear and eventually fell to a more enterprising and livelier side.

“I have brought the top goal scorers in the league,” Kimanzi said. “The players in the squad are the ones who have been outstanding this season. The players let themselves down but they now know what they have to do.”

Experienced campaigners

Several players simply had a bad day in the office. Goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng, returning to international football after several years, conceded a penalty that led to Malawi’s second goal as he tried to recover from poor judgment.

Tusker’s talented wing forward Paul Were, despite so much having been expected from him, imploded at this stage.

He never got anything right and was, mercifully, eventually substituted while veteran Titus Mulama ran out of steam.

Kimanzi nonetheless remained optimistic of recovering and has had 48 hours to ponder changes to his starting line-up.

The coach has dropped four players for this must-win match. James Situma, Dennis Odhiambo, Collins Okoth and Paul Were have been relegated to the bench.

They will be replaced by Yusuf Juma, James Mulinge, Humphrey Mieno and Victor Ochieng’.

Ethiopia displayed fluid play and created plenty of scoring chances against Sudan and will feel capable of getting three points against Kenya.

Experienced campaigners Getaneh Kebede, Omod Okwury and the silky-skilled Shemeles Bekele will provide another stern test for the five-time Cecafa champions.

Malawi’s coach, Kennah Phiri, will look to secure qualification to the quarter-finals with victory against Africa Cup of Nations-bound Sudan in the second match of the day.

Only the top two teams in each of the three groups will automatically qualifier for the knockout stage together with the two best third-placed sides.

Wednesday’s fixtures: Group C: Ethiopia v Kenya (2pm), Sudan v Malawi (4pm)

Source: The Daily Nation

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