NAIROBI, Kenya, June 9- Harambee Stars coach Antoine Hey has taken some positives out of his team’s performance against Nigeria despite being thrashed 3-0 on Sunday.
Hey said that slack defending and poor execution let them down at the Abuja National Stadium eventually rooting his side at the bottom of group B of the World Cup qualifiers without a single point.
“It was unfortunate that we conceded a goal after two minutes. The way we played was excellent despite the poor finishing,” said Hey after his team arrived back from Nigeria on Monday evening.
“We had very good opportunities to equalize after 60 minutes would have helped us gain a single point that were targeting,” he added.
Stars were a goal down barely three minutes into the qualifier after Ikechukwu Uche pounced on loose play by the Kenyan back four to put Nigeria 1-0 ahead.
A penalty and a thunderous strike from Obinna Nsofor put the cherry on the cake and condemned Stars to their second defeat of the qualifying campaign.
Dennis Oliech tested the Eagles’ goal with some testing shots in both halves but his efforts went wide or over the cross bar.
Parma midfielder McDonald Mariga and Austin Makacha were the leading lights in the Stars midfield but their sorties were cut off by the solid Nigerian defence.
Hey believes that the sloppy ball control portrayed by his team was down to lack of exposure for the players.
“One of the problems we have is experience. In our last two matches we have faced top professionals both on the continent (Africa) and Europe,” said the former Liberia and Gambia coach.
“If you look at the first goal Nigeria scored, the striker (Uche) was one on one with Origi and he scored. On the other side, Oliech was in the same situation but he missed. These are some of the things we need to work on,” he added.
Despite Kenya’s poor show in defence, Hey had special praise for Pascal Ochieng and Julius Owino for how they manned Stars’ rearguard for majority of the match.
“Misunderstanding and lack of concentration led to the first goal but the performance of Pascal and Julius showed that even local based players can compete at a higher level,” said the German.
Hey also revealed that he will recall American based striker Taiwo Atieno as they prepare for the match against Mozambique on June 20.
A warm up match against Ghana has also been lined up on June 16.
Stars captain Musa Otieno called for Kenyans to rally behind the team despite the controversies that bedeviled the preparations for the Nigeria match.
“For these two weeks, I urge Kenyans, the federation (FKL) and the government to support the team because Mozambique is a must win game because we still have a chance of playing in the Cup of Nations,” said Otieno.
Otieno who also captained Stars at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations said the Sunday’s final score does not reflect the way the team played.
“It’s very hard to believe the score board when you look at how we played. We just need to go back to the drawing board and see what went wrong and work on it,” he added.