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Former Gor Mahia Midfielder points out Harambee Stars’ shortcomings in Burundi draw

Monday, June 10th, 2024 08:23 | By
Harambee Stars training at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Harambee Stars training at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi. PHOTO/@Harambee__Stars/X

Former Gor Mahia forward Bramwel Karamoja has faulted Harambee Stars’ poor closing of games and tactical approach for the national team’s draw against Burundi.

Harambee Stars conceded in the 85th minute after a Daniel Anyembe blunder allowed Burundi’s second-half substitute Sudi Abdallah to score the equalizer. The result leaves Stars third in Group F with four points, equal with Burundi ahead of a tricky fixture against African Champions Ivory Coast.

Harambee Stars' tactical miss

Karamoja believes that coach Engin Firat should have started with two strikers upfront in a changed 4-4-2 system instead of relying on Michael Olunga for all the goals.

“Having Benson Omala on the bench for the whole game was a surprising decision, not taking anything away from Michael Olunga. Playing at home the coach should have adopted a 4-4-2 with Olunga and Omalla upfront to increase our goal-scoring chances." Karamoja told the Buzz.

Struggles, triumphs that shaped FKF-PL 2023/24 season
Kevin Juma of Gor Mahia FC (c) celebrates with his team-mate Benson Omalla after scoring against Ulinzi Stars in their FKF-PL match played at Ulinzi Sports Complex, Nairobi on September 2 2023. PHOTO/ Bonface Msangi

The Jaza Stadi Initiative CEO absolved goalkeeper Patrick Matasi of any wrongdoing in the defensive lapse that led to the equalizer while insisting the role on form Gor Mahia midfielder Austin Odhiambo has to play in the team.

Odhiambo came off the bench in the second half and picked Duke Abuya for the opening goal in the fixture before being taken off the pitch in the dying moments of the game.

“I disagree with those people who tried blaming the goalkeeper Matasi for the blunder, personally I believe it was not his undoing. These are basic defending principles, if it’s not safe to play then just punt the ball away.

"I think the coach also made a mistake, bringing in Austin Odhiambo who came up with an assist before taking him off again. These are games Austin should be starting because if you watched the game from the beginning we lacked creativity. We have very few creative players in the country, Austin being one of them. He is one of the best players in the Kenyan Premier League as of now,” the former Gor Mahia player explained.

Harambee Stars’ Duke Abuya (left) scores against Burundi national team’s goalkeeper during their World Cup qualifier on Friday.
Harambee Stars’ Duke Abuya (left) scores against Burundi national team’s goalkeeper during their World Cup qualifier on Friday. PHOTO/FKF

He also faulted Kenya’s tendency to give away games in the dying moments of the game while acknowledging that playing away from home might have also contributed to the dismal results in Malawi.

“Looking at the games we have lost or drawn, there is a pattern that seems to repeat itself. Harambee Stars always concede from around the 85th minute or in the last five minutes of the game. This has happened in the last three games.

"You can’t play your home games away from home. Anyone who has played football or follows football will tell you home advantage is key. This means Harambee Stars have to play all their home matches in the country.

"We were playing at home but in the real sense, it was our opponents who looked more at home because the stands were filled with Burundi fans. This is where the rain started beating us,” Karamoja added.

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