Kenya’s Harambee Stars boosted their chances of making it to the 2019 African Cup of Nations, after a historic win over Ghana in Day Two of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers at Moi International Sports Center (MISC), Kasarani on Saturday 8 September.
In a great collective effort from the players, Stars showed their grit to bring down one of the African heavyweights, despite missing a chunk of top players. Here we dissect the output of each player who did duty in Sebastien Migne's first competitive game as Stars head coach.
Patrick Matasi (GK)-6
With regular Boniface Oluoch having not made it to the squad, Matasi was once again tasked with manning the post. As much as credit would go to his defence for a good show, Matasi showed good communication with his team mates and saved the few shots that came his way, standing tall, especially in the second half.
Prior to the game, the right back position was an area that had the home team sweating with all defenders called to camp having featured predominantly as center backs in their clubs. Otieno, used periodically by his club as a right back, slotted in perfectly and managed to keep silent one of the best African imports in the English Premier League - Christian Atsu. His output was felt, more so in the second half when he had to pull out injured, and Atudo thrown in to replace him at the interval.
Many had put their money on David Ochieng to partner Musa Mohammed in defence following the absence of David Owino but that wasn’t to be. Coach Migne went with Joshua and Musa with Ochieng benched. It proved to be a masterpiece as the Gor Mahia stalwart was one of the best players on the pitch. With Stars leading, Ghana had a perfect opportunity to equalize minutes into the second half but Joshua was going to have none of that as he took one for the team-bringing down Majid Waris who would have had an easy decision to slot past Matasi. His tackle was largely the act that won Kenya the game.
Just like Philemon, Musa did his work perfectly well in an area many felt had a vacuum. His partnership with Joash was a perfect match and he showed great composure in leading the team against a tough opposition. For a player who has on most occasions been slotted in the right back position while at the national team, it was a big performance, given the pressure this game came with.
The Cercle Brugge left back rarely disappoints when representing the country. He was one of the most composed players in the game and combined well with Ovella Ochieng and Erick Johanna who interchangeably played on the left flank. He provided a good defensive shield on the left and made the right decisions for a better part of the game.
Many will agree that the Sofapaka man was the man of the match. Much criticism came with his inclusion in the starting team at the expense of Anthony Akumu but he proved that the coach was right in slotting him at the middle of the park. He neutralized the effect of Thomas Partey more so in the first half and this gave his defence easy time in dealing with the rest of the Ghanaian attack.
The Spanish born midfielder had a superb first half but went lost for the better part of the second half. His contribution in the first half in a double pivot role with Dennis was one to behold. They rarely allowed the opposition midfield a sniff of the ball in midfield but the red card to Joash might have given them an added responsibility in bailing the team out.
Rarely had the luxury of showing his attacking prowess due to the formation that was deployed by the home side. On many occasions, he was forced to join the midfield duo of Dennis and Ismael in preventing Ghana from playing. He however had the biggest contribution in providing the assist for the goal as his cross, which was pinpoint to Michael Olunga was turned in by Nicholas Opoku.
Ovella started the game superbly well with good runs on the right flank but failed every time with the final ball; at times he took too long before bringing in crosses and at some points a pass would have done. On a more positive aspect, he added the numbers in the team's defending in the second half more so after the team went a man down.
Apart from applying the pressure that forced the visitors to an own goal, Olunga did well in holding play but many a times was derailed by his team mates inability to to offer support at the right time. When Kenya went a man down, his output was there for all to see. His output in attack understandably went down but he still had to come back to help his side see the game through.
Was introduced at the interval for the injured Philemon Otieno. His introduction gave Ghana some reprieve with Atsu sending him to the coolers more than twice. His prowess in clearing the ball far back into the opposition half can’t be questioned though, he did that well.
A surprise omission from the first team, Ochieng was introduced for Eric Johanna just minutes after Joash was sent off. He brought the stability and experience required in defence and helped his team to see the game off.
The Zambia based midfielder was introduced in the additional minutes for Dennis Odhiambo and did not do much before the final whistle went.
Unused subs: Faruk Shikhalo (GK), Jesse Were, Eric Ouma, Pistone Mutamba