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Offensive headache for Okumbi ahead of Congo qualifier

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Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi issuing instructions during Kenya's 1-1 draw against Tanzania internatinal friendly match on Sunday, May 29, 2016.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi issuing instructions during Kenya’s 1-1 draw against Tanzania internatinal friendly match on Sunday, May 29, 2016.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi has admitted the team is faced with an offensive shortfall as they prepare to host Congo in a 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday in Nairobi.

The team was held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Tanzania in an international friendly match on Sunday with skipper and Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama scoring Kenya’s goal from the spot.

Jesse Were, in red-hot form for his club Zesco United, could not replicate the same for the national team as he failed to match his 12 season goals for the Zambian club, with no shot on target in the Taifa Stars game, forcing Okumbi to substitute him with Muhoroni Youth striker Wycliffe Ochomo.

“We were slow offensively and this is a major concern for us. We created four chances but none could get into the net. I think this is a worry heading into the match against Congo,” Okumbi said after the game.

The former Mathare United coach, who still remains winless as Harambee Stars coach, defended his side’s performance despite not giving much to celebrate about.

The team never showed hunger to win despite the match being a FIFA recognised friendly which will in turn, affect the rankings.

Aboud Omar returning to the national team starting line-up was exposed at left back and most of the chances created by the Tanzanians including Elias Maguli’s goal came from his wing.

“Aboud played well. In Kenya, we have had a major problem with wingbacks both left and right. We have been trying to get suitable players who can run on the wings and deliver crosses but it has been hard. We have some young players coming up and hopefully we can get a solution,” Okumbi stated.

Kenya fielded six foreign based players led by Wanyama, who was an earlier doubt for the match due to injury scare while Taifa Stars fielded local based players.

Taifa Stars head coach Charles Boniface Mkwassa during the friendly against Kenya.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

Taifa Stars head coach Charles Boniface Mkwassa during the friendly against Kenya.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

Tanzania missed the services of top strikers Mbwana Ally Samatta (KRC Genk), Thomas Ulimwengu (TP Mazembe) and Mrisho Ngassa (Free State Stars).

“We wanted to field a young side of our local based players because we want to build up a team for the future. I think they played well and Kenya gave us a good match. It gives us some good insight on what to work on ahead of our match against Egypt this weekend,” Taifa Stars head coach Charles Boniface Mkwassa said.

Kenya will face Sudan in their second friendly match on Tuesday before shifting attention to the Congo game.

Okumbi says he will make changes to the squad, but was not specific if he will field an entirely new team.

Among the new players who got starting berths against Tanzania include current Kenyan Premier League top scorer Ochomo and Ulinzi Stars’ John Mark Makwatta while Eugene Asike was also handed a role in the backline in the absence of South African based Brian Mandela.

“Of course we will give some players opportunity in the Sudan match. We want to field a strong team and we will rest some of them,” Okumbi added.

Among the players expected to start against Sudan include Gor Mahia youngster Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma as well as Spanish based Ismail Athuman Gonzalez, who was called up to the national team for the first time, but failed to make a cut for the Tanzania game.

Harambee Stars skipper Victor Wanyama in action during the friendly against Tanzania. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

Harambee Stars skipper Victor Wanyama in action during the friendly against Tanzania. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

Meanwhile, Wanyama has urged the team to put their focus on the Congo clash and ensure the team picks up a win to boost their confidence.

Harambee Stars trail Group E, having just one point after four games with their only positive result being a 1-1draw against Congo in the first group match last year.

“We cannot say we are playing just to run down the fixtures. Above all, these matches will be important for us in terms of ranking. We need to ensure we win our remaining matches to improve on our confidence,” Wanyama noted.

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