The National football team recently claimed the bragging rights in the region after clinching the CECAFA Senior Challenge title by beating neighbours Zanzibar in the final played on Sunday 17 December in Machakos albeit in post-match penalties.
We now turn our attention to the individual performance of the players in the match and their respective contribution in the squad the handed coach Paul Put a perfect start to his career in Kenya.
Patrick Matasi, 8: The tournament MVP and best goalkeeper had a game and a tournament he will savour for a very long time. Will be best remembered for the three penalty saves he made but also had a good game commanding and organizing his backline. He also showed his alertness and agility when he grabbed a hopeful long shot from Zanzibar while almost falling backwards into the net. Cannot be faulted for the two goals Star’s conceded in regulation time.
Denis Sikhayi, 5; The diminutive AFC leopards right-back was one of the better Star’s unsung heroes during the tournament. His composed demeanour gave Matasi an option to start play from the back and was able to steal the ball from his opponents on a number of occasions. However, he was partly responsible for both goals that Harambee Stars conceded.
Wesley Onguso, 5: The lanky left-back has grown as the tournament progressed and had a decent game in the final. He oozed confidence but still needs to improve if he is to cement a place in the national team. His has a secret weapon in his ability to launch balls into the opposition box from through-ins. Scored his penalty too,
Jockins Atudo, 7: If not for Matasi’s heroics in the penalty shootout, the game MVP gong would have gone to Atudo. Totally dominant in the air there was simply no way past him on the ground either. He added the icing on the by slotting his penalty beautifully.
Musa Mohammed, 5: Contrary to Atudo, Harambee stars captain had a game to forget. Despite generally having a decent game, Mohammed was found wanting on both goals Stars conceded during regulation time. He slipped while rushing to defend an attack and in the process allowed Zanzibar heroes to score their first goal. If bad luck was the case in the first goal by Zanzibar, their second one was a real clanger for the experienced defender who while trying to block the ball from reaching an opponent ended up setting it up nicely for Zanzibar to equalize for the second time.
Duncan Otieno,5: Had a quiet game but despite showing glimpses of his potential allowed Zanzibar too much space in midfield as the Islanders tried to restore parity whenever they were a goal down. Unfortunate too that his penalty was saved.
Patillah Omoto,5: Like Otieno conceded too much space in midfield whenever Stars were in the lead. Was however creative and controlled the midfield well whenever the home side made forays up-field.
Ovella Ochieng, 5: Scored a peach with a goal from a free kick but nothing else worth noting from the Kariobangi Sharks hotshot. Struggled to have any impact on the match and his positional indiscipline kept exposing Sikhayi to Zanzibar attacks. Showed willingness to take on his man whenever he had the ball with darting Raheem Sterling like runs. Had to be substituted for a more industrious Samwel Onyango.
Whyvone Isuza, 7: Really caught the eye in this tournament and capped it with a tireless display in the final. Was probably the most fouled player in the tournament and unsurprisingly won the free kick that led to Harambee stars the first goal. The most positive of Stars players always trying to take on his markers and make something happen.
George Odhiambo,6: A roller coaster match for Blackberry who seemed to be struggling with either an injury or fatigue. On the few occasions, he tried to take his man he would come on top but had to be hauled off after taking one knock too many.
Kepha Aswani, 5: Was tasked with leading Star’s attack but was left isolated for much of the match as Stars played a defensive match. Also not in-sync with his teammates, always mistiming his runs and a lot of wasted ball. Was substituted for a more productive Masud Juma.
Masud Juma, 7. Came on for Aswani and immediately Stars attack had a focal point. Used his physical presence well to hold the ball and showed a strikers instinct in scoring Stars second goal after capitalsing on a howler from Zanzibar’s goalkeeper.
Samwel Onyango, 5: Came on for a struggling Ovella and immediately had the Zanzibaris on the back foot. Also slotted home his penalty brilliantly.
Ernest Wendo, 5: The giant midfielder replaces Odhiambo to provide defensive cover but both Zanzibar equalizing goals were scored while he was on. However settled letter in the game and had starts ticking.