NAIROBI, September 2- Harambee Stars skipper, Victor Wanyama, admitted they are to blame for letting down their supporters in their shattering 2-1 defeat to visitors Zambia in Sunday’s 2017 Nation Cup qualifiers that left a huge dent in Kenya’s qualification hopes.
Having started their campaign on a bright note when they held 2015 AFCON fourth finishers, Congo Brazzaville 1-1 away, thousands of fans led by world champion and Javelin super star Julius Yego, filled Nyayo National Stadium to the rafters anticipating victory.
In the end, they all wished Yego who won the world title in Beijing with a monster 92.72m metre effort could have thrown the players out of the stadium or the misery out of Stars as home fans left in shame, their chins hanging so low they could touch their knees.
Despite Gor Mahia’s Michael Olunga almost bringing the stadium down with an early opener, their hopes were dashed at the end of the final whistle, which reminded them of last year’s shoddy performance when Stars were bundled out of the 2015 edition by minnows Lesotho at the pre-qualifiers.
Angry fans stormed the pitch after a barren draw condemned Kenya were to a 1-0 defeat on aggregate, baying for the players blood even after Wanyama and his predecessor, Dennis Oliech apologised for the county’s worst outing ever with Belgian, Adel Amrouche, in charge of the team then.
On Sunday, security officers were forced to escort the Southampton midfield dynamo out of the field as a crowd of mixed admirers and critics surged menacingly towards him and Norway based keeper, Arnold Origi – the two notable stars Kenyans hinged their hopes on.
“The fans gave us a good support but we have let them down, we played badly. We did not defend well.
“We were not (playing) as a unit so we must pick ourselves up because if we continue playing like this, I don’t think we will make it. We must work hard because we have really let our fans down,” a disappointed Wanyama said before he was led to the dressing room under a security cordon.
Norway’s Lillestromme first choice keeper, Origi who returned to the team for the first time since featuring against Comoros in May last year, echoed his captain’s sentiments, noting they deserve all bile being thrown at them.
“We played rubbish; this was not a match to lose. Fans came in big numbers, we promised them everything then at the end of the day we disappointed them. We deserve every criticism because from our part it was a disgrace.
“We lost as a team because we defended badly. We conceded two goals in a match that we didn’t deserve to lose since it could have pushed us ahead. We now have no option but to pick ourselves up the see if we will beat Guinea Bissau home and away,” frustrated Origi popularly known as ‘Kenya one’, rued.
The Chipolopolo scored two goals in a space of 12 minutes through Zesco United forward, Winstone Kalengo and Mpumalanga Black Aces striker, Collins Mbesuma to cancel out Olunga’s 13th minute strike.
Both Wanyama and Origi felt the defence was to blame for the two goals that enabled Zambia win their first Group E match.
David ‘Calabar’ Owino and Dennis Odhiambo manned the full back positions with Brian Mandela and Lawrence Olum partnering at the heart of the defence.
Chipolopolo interim head coach, George Lwandamina who is also Owino’s boss at Zambia top flight side, Zesco United, said they knew their work was cut out after the defender who moved from Gor at the beginning of the season was played at right back instead of his favoured centre.
“In the first half, Kenya were knocking the ball but how we undone their strategy is that we destroyed their defence and got the two goals. Owino knows too much about our game but the good part is that he was misplaced.
“I play him in the central so it worked for us and if you looked, the second goal came from the right but he played well trying to fit in which is good,” Lwandamina narrated.
Congo Brazzaville who beat Guinea Bissau 4-2 on Saturday top the group from Zambia on goal difference on four points.
Kenya slipped to third ahead of Guinea Bissau on goals conceded.
Stars head coach, Bobby Williamson who is yet to win a competitive match since joining the team in August 2014, must now overcome Guinea Bissau away when the qualifiers for the road to Gabon resume in March 2016.