NAIROBI, November 19 – Harambee Stars head coach Bobby Williamson said it was always going to be difficult to get a positive result from their 2018 World Cup second round return leg qualifier against Cape Verde following their chaotic travelling to Praia.
Cape Verde ended Stars dreams of reaching the group stages for the road to Russia global showdown after capitalizing on Kenya’s shambolic preparations to beat them 2-0 in the return leg to advance with a 2-1 aggregate win.
After being stranded for 10 hours on the eve of the match, Stars embarked on their 16 hours journey to arrive five hours to the match but speaking when the team returned on Thursday, Williamson said he cannot point fingers on anyone for the delay.
“My work is just to coach the players give a piece of advice and it’s up to other people to do their job. I don’t blame anybody, mistakes have been made, I don’t know who is culpable so let’s wait and see what comes out.
“I’m extremely disappointed because I thought I got a team that can go and get into the group stages but unfortunately the preparations certainly hampered our plans and I’m disappointed for the fans because it’s a long time since we were in a big tournament.
“I’m disappointed for the country as a whole because everybody wanted us to do well,” the Scotsman underscored.
Williamson commended his charges for putting their off the field problems and give their best in a match where Stars just needed a draw of any kind to book their place at the group stages.
“We had no ideal preparation. We arrived four hours before kick-off and as you all saw in the first 10 minutes of the game we could have been down 3-0 and the game could be over but credit to the guys they gained in the game.
“We conceded an easy goal and gave them free will in the defence. Fatigue started again in the second half and we were punished but I commend my boys for pushing hard to get that one goal that could have seen us through but it ended in a hump,” Williamson who had stint with Uganda Cranes for five years asserted.”
He added, “It’s been challenging to keep the morale high on the team but they showed professionalism to forget about their problems and play their hearts out.”
The team will have no time to prepare for the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup as they resume training on Friday before departing on Saturday for Addis Ababa ahead of the regional tournament that get underway this weekend.
The defending champions will open their campaign against rivals Uganda on Sunday with Williamson outlining it will be a tall order to get past his former employer who are the only East African nation to have sailed through to the 2018 World Cup group stages, courtesy of their 4-0 aggregate triumph over fancied Togo.
“We have no time to work out. Uganda have an advantage over us because they had enough time to rest, having played on Sunday at home so they had the whole week to prepare.
“We will probably train tomorrow (Friday) and hopefully we leave on Saturday but all in all our aim is to win the first match since it’s always important to start on a high,” Williamson who won four Cecafa Cup titles with Cranes underscored.
The Scotsman who only have defender Omar Mbongi’s shoulder injury to worry, is expected to make changes to his squad after foreign based players; skipper Victor Wanyama linked up with his Southampton side ahead of Saturday’s EPL clash with Stock City while midfielder, Johanna Omolo who plies his trade in Belgium side (Royal Antwerp) also joining his club.
Gor Mahia forward, Michael Olunga who netted the winner in Stars 1-0 first leg win, urged football stake holders to put their act together and help the team regain its old days glory.
“It was just a game like any other so we just accepted defeat and from there we are going to try and pull up our socks. We can’t blame the loss on arriving their hours to the match but it was a factor that contributed our poor performance.
“We want to bring back Kenya where it was but this will only happen if the management and stake holders of football will come together and unite because its demoralizing for us players, we do our best but at the end of the day we are not supported in the right way so I will ask them to step up their game,” Olunga who studies engineering at Technical University of Kenya, stated.
“We are not looking back, we have already forgotten about Cape Verde match and we are now focusing on Cecafa. It’s going to be tough especially against Uganda but we will give it a good fight,” Olunga the 2015 SportPesa Premier League runner-ups Golden Boot winner said.
Kenya is drawn in a tough Pool B alongside Uganda, Burundi and Zanzibar.