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Not yet the football I want, says Put after Stars win

Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put watches from the touchline during Kenya’s match against Rwanda in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup on December 3, 2017 in Kakamega. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAKAMEGA, Kenya, Dec 4- Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put says the team is yet to show the brand of football he wants, but nonetheless accepts that he was pleased with their performance in their opening CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup 2-0 win over Rwanda on Sunday.

The tactician who has been with the team for just a week notes more still needs to be done technically and tactically, but says it will be easy to work considering the quality, heart and desire he has seen the players exhibit during his first seven days.

“This is not my kind of football we are bringing today. We have to do a lot of work; we need to improve the players. They have talent and quality but there is still a long way to go. But I must say congratulations to the players for the victory. They have shown they are willing to play as a team,” Put told Capital Sport after the match on Sunday in Bukhungu.

Among the new players who wore the national team colors for the first time were fullbacks Dennis Sikhayi and Wesley Onguso, midfielder Whyvonne Isuza while George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo made a return after a long while.

AFC Leopards youngster Vincent Oburu also got a cameo, coming into the fray for the final five minutes of the game.

The Starting 11 of the Harambee Stars team pose for a group photo before Kenya’s match against Rwanda in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup on December 3, 2017 in Kakamega. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Put adds that most of the squad selection was handled by Stanley Okumbi and second assistant John Kamau who have been with the team long enough and the Belgian says he trusts them enough to ensure the strongest Kenyan team goes out to play.

While he reckons the Bukhungu Stadium surface was not one of the best to play his brand of football, the coach says he was delighted starting off the tournament with victory setting them up to hunt for the title.

“What’s important is that it is the first game and it was crucial to get a good result. Rwanda have quality but the will and the motivation of the players was great. It was what we have been asking of them in training the whole week,” the tactician further pointed out.

Stars’ next assignment will be against Libya on Tuesday in Machakos and Put hopes they can go on and pick a second win which will more or less put them one foot into the knockout phase.

“Libya is a very good team and we should expect a tough game. It is a very crucial and important match for us and the first thing is that we need to ensure we don’t concede,” the coach offered.

The biggest items on his to-do list before the second match is ensuring the players remain calm and keep the ball more often, something he said didn’t happen as much against Rwanda.

“Whenever they came at us, we panicked and didn’t make good decisions. I was wondering why. But we need to be calmer and ensure we keep possession,” the coach pointed out.

-Mohammed pleased-

Harambee Stars captain Musa Mohammed walks into the pitch before Kenya’s match against Rwanda in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup on December 3, 2017 in Kakamega. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Meanwhile, skipper Musa Mohammed admitted they struggled at some points in the match because they were a new team and were yet to grasp each other’s runs and movements but reckons things will improve against Libya.

“We have gotten used to each other abit now and I think things will be better against Libya. We have set ourselves very well and hopefully we can be able to replicate this same performance on Tuesday,” Mohammed who skippered Gor Mahia to the Kenyan Premier League title said.

Elsewhere, while his boss Antoine Hey refused to talk to the media after the win, his skipper Eric Ndayishimiye was gracious enough to speak and he said the team though disappointed with the loss will pick up and fight for a semi-final slot.

“We have a young team which the coach is trying to build and at times we are bound to make mistakes. It was disappointing to lose but we have to keep our heads high and focus on the next match. I am confident we can get a win,” Ndayishimiye, the most experienced player in the squad said.

Rwanda’s next match will be against Zanzibar on Tuesday at 2pm with Kenya facing Libya in the late kick off.