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Kimanzi points out laxity in shock Eritrea loss

Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi issues instructions to midfielder Whyvonne Isuza during the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup semi-final against Eritrea at the Lugogo Arena on December 17, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 18 – Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi has hinted that his charges might have underestimated Eritrea leading to the 4-1 loss in the semi-finals of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala on Tuesday.

Stars had come in as defending champions and most expected them to sweep over the Eritreans, but they were out of sorts as the Red Sea Boys thrashed them to make their first ever Senior Challenge Cup final.

“Psychologically we tried to psyche the players up but sometimes I know it has something to do with the thought that it looks easy from a distance but it is never easy until it’s over,” Kimanzi told Capital Sport.

He added; “When it’s a knockout match with some young players in the group and you concede an early goal, sometimes they tend to give up too early and start thinking of the outcome instead of fighting. We never expected this because we had a good run in the tournament. I think we panicked a lot in this game.”

Harambee Stars players line up before their CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup semi-final against Eritrea at the Lugogo Arena on December 17, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The tactician also admitted they found it tough to break down a compact Eritrean side who sat well behind the ball and used their chance on the attack whenever they opened up the Kenyan side from midfield to defense.

“They played good football and tried to contain us. Technically they have very good players who were good sitting back and also very sharp coming out. We tried everything but sometimes it is not easy when you concede a goal against a team which is sitting in front of their goal,”

“The only concern is that they scored very cheap goals. It is not easy for us to understand because they are not balls that are coming in the run of play,” the tactician further stated.

Stars will now compete for the prize that no one wants to play off, the third and fourth play-off. Kimanzi however says they will go out to try and salvage some pride when they take on Tanzania, a side they beat 1-0 in the group stages.

Harambee Stars striker Oscar Wamalwa in action during the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup semi-final against Eritrea at the Lugogo Arena on December 17, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

At the same time, Kimanzi has picked some positives from the tournament saying he has seen a number of players who have proved their worth to be called up to the senior team.

He singled out striker Oscar Wamalwa who has scored three goals and given one assist in four games, saying he has the potential to step up.

“The most important thing is that we had to look at some of the areas that we always feel we have deficiencies. We have always been looking for a striker who can help Olunga (Michael) and Jesse (Were) and Oscar has shown us that he has the ability. He has time to work more between now and the next qualifiers and we will keep looking at him,”

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“We also need to motivate him even at his club to get some good coaching and I think he will be a good player for us,” the tactician further added.

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