Francis Kimanzi’s third stint at the Kenya national team, Harambee Stars started with a 1-1 draw with Uganda and in the clash on Sunday 8 September at MISC Kasarani, he gave a number debutants play time.
Atariza Amai, Lawrence Juma, Collins Agade Boniface Muchiri and Samuel Olwande all got game time and Kimanzi expressed his satisfaction at their performance as they managed to hold their own in the absence of the foreign based stars.
While Juma, Agade and Olwande all started, Atariza and Muchiri came on with good impact and Kimanzi lauded their performance even though he admitted they still have some ground to cover as the team gears towards preparations for the 2021 AFCON finals.
“The new call ups were positive and I cannot say they are there yet because it was only 90 minutes. But the good thing is that we have two other matches before we start the qualifiers” he said
“What the players are showing from their performance is that when we picked them they had done some homework and I believe if they can manage the pressure in the next two friendlies then we can increase our depth,
“The players got something in them and they can sure play but they have to cope with the intensity of this level,” he added.
Kenya did not have the perfect start to the match and fell behind in the 22nd minute to Emmanuel Okwi’s goal.
Kimanzi was forced to make tactical changes and first timer Agade was replaced by Whyvonne Isuza towards the end of the first half with Kimanzi pushing Kenneth Muguna to forward, which worked well in the second half.
“Agade joined the camp late and he did his job but we had to change because we realized that we needed to inject some speed in midfield, Isuza is quick so I thought at least with Isuza we could counter the opponents speed,” Kimanzi noted.
Kenya will face Egypt and Togo in the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers in November but before then, the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has indicated there will be more friendly action to help prepare the team.