Harambee Stars suffered stage fright, but will improve, says Baraza

Former Harambee Stars assistant coach Francis Baraza believes Kenya has what it takes to rise from the opening loss to Algeria at the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Sunday 23 June.

A dominant first half display from the North Africans saw Baghdad Bounedjah and Riyad Mahrez score to settle the game and though Kenya had a much improved second half, it was not enough to unsettle the Algerians.

Baraza feels Kenya had stage fright in the opening periods of the game and gave a lot of respect to the Algerians, who in turn took advantage.

Stage fright

“It was just stage fright; we were afraid of them and allowed them a lot of possession. Honestly, we didn’t close in on them early enough and most of our key players were not in the game.

“The midfield was not functional and the wide players too did not provide much. Maybe it was down to the coach’s game plan and in the end you know it is the coach’s call,” he told Soka.

Better second half

In the second half, the introduction of Erick Ouma and Johanna Omollo saw a lot more balls going forward and more complete forward passes. Baraza says that was a result of more stability in the midfield.

“We had Michael Olunga all alone upfront most of the time and the midfield was unstable until Ouma and Omollo came in maybe that should provide us with the strategy for the next game,” he added.

Transition

Kenya will face Tanzania next, and Baraza’s advice is for the team to exhibit quicker transition, then defend and attack in numbers and as a team.

“We have no goal so far in the tournament; let’s change that. We have to attack in numbers and defend as a unit. To do this we will need to have a very quick transition to fit the situation.

“All in all, I have to say that is my opinion and everything else is upon thew coach’s plan. So far I think he has done well and the federation too has done enough to motivate the players and I think we can post better results in the remaining matches,” he concluded.

After the loss, Kenya and Tanzania are at the bottom of Group C, with Tanzania having lost 0 – 2 to Senegal earlier on Sunday 23 June.