Kenya’s quest to return to the Africa Cup of Nations since 2004 received a blow after they were beaten 2-1 by visiting Chipolopolo of Zambia at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, Sunday evening.
The Harambee Stars took the lead through Michael Olunga but defensive blunders gifted Zambia the twin goals and three points which leaves them second in Group E on 4 points while Kenya are third with a single point. Congo Brazzaville lead the group on 4 points as well but have a better goal difference.
See below our Player Ratings for Harambee Stars against Zambia. Do you agree? Drop your comments under the article, or talk to us on Twitter: @Four4TwoMedia
Arnold Origi (GK) – 6
The Lillestrom man returned to the Kenya national team set up after a long absence which even ilicited rumours that he was thinking to change his nationality. Wasn’t overworked by the Zambia attackers. He pulled a stunning double save but was cleanly beaten by the Chipolopolo’s twin goals, both of which you couldn’t fault him.
Lawrence Olum – 5.0
Cleared everything thrown at his defence by Zambia before they go their two goals. Should have organized the defence better while his central defensive pairing with Brian Mandela doesn’t look promising.
Brian Mandela – 4.5
Looked heavy on the turn and struggled to deal with the ball both on the ground and on air. Was left for dead in Zambia’s opener and should have gotten tighter to his man in the lead up to the second goal. That he has been injured and his yet to kickstart his career at Maritzburg made Bobby Williamson’s move to select him baffling.
David Owino – 6.5
Zambia coach George Lwandamina admitted after the match that he was so relieved seeing ‘Calabar’ being thrown into the right back position. Lwandamina works with Owino at Zesco United where Owino is played as a center half. Nevertheless, the former Gor Mahia man put a shift in. He burst forward occasionally during the first half, winning Kenya free-kicks in dangerous positions. Got the better of Winston Kalaba except for the first goal.
Dennis Odhiambo – 7
A humble workhorse who goes about his duties with utmost perfection. Looked cool-headed and stopped everything that was thrown at him as Zambia tried and tested different players on his wing. Could he have done better on the second goal which came from his channel?
Collins Okoth – 6
Started brightly in the holding midfield role with Victor Wanyama but faded as the game wore on. It’s clear to everyone, except Williamson perhaps, that both players limit each other’s capacities when playing together. Was substituted in the second half for a more attacking Johanna Omollo who made a difference.
Victor Wanyama – 7
A bossy display from the Southampton man whose mental strength was put to question before the match, his desired move to Tottenham having hit a snag. His partnership with Okoth failed to work again but once the Gor Mahia man left, Wanyama was beastly in the middle, even winning a shoulder charge with the more beastly Collins Mbesuma late on.
Ayub Timbe – 8.5****
The best player on the field by some distance. He was supposed to play the No. 10 role but darted across the field like a possessed man. Terrorized the Zambia wing-backs with deft touches, mazy runs, step-overs and a whole lot of tricks. Almost scored midway into the match with a free-kick which fooled Mweene. Helped his defenders time and again and always looked to beat his man before putting across. An accomplished performance from a complete player. One to watch.
Paul Were – 6.5
High ratings for the man despite the fact that he played only a quarter of the game. Him on the left and Timbe on the right left Zambia defenders in sixes and sevens. He was one of three or four players in Harambee Stars starting XI who have not played competitive football lately but had a real go. Lack of match fitness saw him exit the scene early aftrer pulling up and you could say his substitution killed Kenya’s attacking instinct by a country mile.
Dennis Oliech – 5
He still has that pace in him doesn’t he? Was made busy during the early exchanges as Wanyama and co hit long balls down the left channel. Tested Mweene early on but didn’t do so much thereafter despite being busy. Failed to win any aerial balls, not his strength always, and got a wee bit tired before being substituted in the second half. An encouraging show but nothing extra ordinary.
Michael Olunga – 8.5
Scored his first senior international goal after sheer determination, won countless headers, barely gave the ball away and was the real ‘menace’ for Harambee Stars. Arguably the best striker in Kenya right now and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. If you hear someone say Olunga is the future, give him a hard pinch. This man, is the present, and the future, of course.
Noah Wafula – 3
Flop of the match by some distance. He came on for injured Paul Were and offered far too little in his 65 odd minute of football than Were did in just 25 minutes. Lost the ball easily, one even in front of Williamson which attracted a deserved rollicking from the gaffer, but more devastatingly, failed to put in a cross, the greatest crime a winger can commit. Was put through on goal late on but developed cold feet, refusing to take an aim. His international career must have just come to a crushing end on September 6 at the Nyayo National Stadium against Zambia. Bookmark that.
Johanna Omollo – 7
‘Tosh’ should have started the match, many including yours truly felt but Williamson didn’t. His introduction into the match added spark in Harambee Stars hitherto less creative midfield. His link up play with Timbe spurred Stars’ quest for an equalizer while his absence also seemed to have woken up Wanyama who did his job in protecting his defence. Should be a sure starter in the next match.
Allan Wanga – 5
Didn’t have enough time to settle in the game. You could count the number of touches he made after replacing Oliech. Has not played much football lately but once he does, he will be in contention to partner Olunga.
Bobby Williamson – 4
The gaffer took a gamble by not having a natural winger on his substitutes’ bench. Turned to Wafula when Were got injured and he must have regretted the decision as well. Took time to see that Wanyama and Gattuso weren’t being the yin and yang he desired for and by the time spotted it, it was too late. Is he the right man? The jury is still out.