Massacre in Agadir! – Shambolic Stars hit for five by Mali
If Thursday night was an audition for new Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat, then he failed the test horribly. The coach who is on a two-month contract suffered a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Mali in their third World Cup qualifier in Agadir Morocco, a result that goes down as one of the worst for Kenya in recent times.
Horrible fielding coupled by a lethargic performance from the players all but literally killed Kenya’s faint hopes of making it to a first ever World Cup in Qatar.
Ibrahima Kone had a field day, scoring a hattrick and laying up an assist for another as Mali’s Eagles soared comfortably to lead Group E with seven points, and the return leg coming up in Nairobi on Sunday.
Firat, with only one week of full training with the team decided to go on the gamble with his team selection. Joash Onyango who has just returned from injury was played at right back away from his usual centre back positioning.
He started up Abud Omar and Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma on the left, both leftbacks while he played out immediate former Tusker FC striker Henry Meja as a wide-man on the right.
It took just seven minutes for the Malians to take advantage and break the deadlock. The Harambee Stars cheaply lost the ball in a dangerous area with Mali turning possession, Kone playing out wide to Adama Traore, the latter slicing a low shot between keeper Ian Otieno’s feet.
The Malians doubled their tally in the 22nd minute when Traore returned the favour to nod down the ball for Kone, the latter battling Joseph Okumu to direct the ball into the net. The Malians had exploited Onyango’s weakness on the right to float in a cross which led to the goal.
With his side being run all over by Mali, Firat made changes after 34 minutes, Onyango and Lawrence Juma coming off for Abdallah Hassan and Eric Zakayo. Again, it was another lash raising change as Stars now played without a fullback as Abdallah Hassan is a winger.
Immediately after the change, goal number three was in the net. Kone added his second with a simple tap in after a corner was flicked his way and over keeper Ian Otieno.
It was 4-0 at the stroke of halftime when Kone completed his hattrick from the penalty spot after Moussa Djenepo was hauled down inside the box. The striker stepped up to send the ball into the roof of the net as Mali finished the job even before the break.
At the start of the second half, the coach made another change, bringing keeper Otieno off for Faruk Shikalo. Kenya were better but Mali were content with the score and took to the back seat.
He later also brought in Boniface Muchiri and Duke Abuya, but it never changed the color of the game. Muchiri however created an opportunity that would have seen Kenya get one back, floating a decent cross from the left but Michael Olunga’s header went wide.
The lanky forward also had a chance with a shot from range, but he skied it.
It would be the Malians who would score again to complete the five-star performance. A brilliant strike from Moussa Doumbia from the outside of the boot hit the upright and bounced off Shikalo’s chest and into the net.
Stars now return home with questions in their minds and Firat’s abilities hugely questioned after one of the worst performances ever by the national team.