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No place to hide for Harambee Stars if they don’t vastly improve

 KENYA PLAYER RATING v Algeria:

Patrick Matasi4/10

Philemon Otieno4/10

Musa Mohammed3/10

Joseph Okumu6/10

Aboud Omar4/10

Dennis Odhiambo3/10

Victor Wanyama4/10

Francis Kahata2/10

Eric Johanna4/10

Ayub Timbe Masika 3/10

Michael Olunga 4/10

ABOVE is how Kenyans back home rated the awfully poor performance of the Harambee Stars against Algeria in their opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations fixture in Cairo on Sunday and if they do not vastly improve in their next game – v Tanzania on Thursday, the players could count their careers irretrievably soured.

Having been thrown into a desperate scramble in defence by long Algeria balls right from the opening whistle, Harambee Stars shocked almost an entire country glued to television with their soccer inability.

Top: Kenya’s Dennis OMINO (No 21), Abud OMAR (No. 3) and Musa Mohammed (No. 5) beaten to the race by Algeria in their match in Cairo on Sunday. Above: Kenyans try to deal with red-hot Algeria's Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez (No. 7)

Top: Kenya’s Dennis OMINO (No 21), Abud OMAR (No. 3) and Musa Mohammed (No. 5) beaten to the race by Algeria in their match in Cairo on Sunday. Above: Kenyans try to deal with red-hot Algeria’s Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez (No. 7)

The performance was described as “Very poor. No game strategy. Poor defence. Blind balls…” with the game hardly 20 minutes played. “A 4-0 defeat will be hard to bear,” was the fear on account of Kenya’s early show. And with just that opening foray in the AFCON forecasts became: “Plane already started for back home…”

Harambee Stars were to ‘hold’ out for a 0-2 loss … only. But analysis continued. That: “Abud Omar having an awful day, the defense tense and midfield not giving enough cover. [Francis] Kahata disappeared after warm-up dancing. [Ayub Masika] Timbe not defending at all. Olunga isolated and lonely…”

Then: “Where is [David Owino] ‘Calabar’ to steady the ship?” Coach Sebastien Migne was attacked for leaving ‘Calabar’ out ‘purely on personal dislike not related to football.”

The selection continued being a sticky issue: “The fact that when trailing we [Kenya] have no decent striker to call off the bench shows the inadequacy of the initial squad selection.”

Algeria 2-0 Kenya

Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez scored as Algeria moved level with Senegal at the top of AFCON Group ‘C’ with a 2-0 win over Kenya.

Baghdad Bounedjah converted from the penalty spot after 34 minutes in Cairo following a clear foul on Youcef Atal. Mahrez then doubled the advantage with a deflected shot from Ismael Bennacer’s cut-back two minutes before half-time.

Algeria join Senegal on three points, after Aliou Cisse’s side defeated Tanzania 2-0 earlier on Sunday. Algeria, attempting to win the tournament for the first time since 1990, were worthy winners against a Kenya side making their first Africa Cup of Nations appearance since 2004.

Only Joseph Okumu managed a grade above-average according to pundits watching Kenya's performance against Algeria

Only Joseph Okumu managed a grade above-average according to pundits watching Kenya’s performance against Algeria

Baghdad Bounedjah twice went close as an assured Algeria dominated the opening exchanges and Youcef Belaili shot straight at Kenya goalkeeper Patrick Matasi when played through on goal by Sofiane Feghouli.

They broke Kenya’s resistance as Dennis Odhiambo carelessly brought down Atal, before captain Mahrez added the second.

Kenya, led by Tottenham midfielder Victor Wanyama, produced an improved second-half display but failed to land a shot on target as Aissa Mandi recovered to block Michael Olunga’s effort late on.

Algeria now face Senegal in a battle for top spot on Thursday, while Kenya take on Tanzania later that day.

Kenya goalie Patrick Matasi is beaten

Kenya goalie Patrick Matasi is beaten

Some of the other highly rated teams at this Africa Cup of Nations have looked unconvincing in their opening matches but there was no rustiness from Algeria; in fact, this was a real statement to start the tournament.

With good intensity, a positive approach and plenty of attacking ideas, they were able to take their foot off the gas after the break following the two deserved goals in the first half.

Riyad Mahrez, the team’s new leader, looked very comfortable wearing the captain’s armband and will be full of confidence with a goal to his name already.

Algeria brought a big contingent of fans to Cairo so it would have felt like a “home” atmosphere for Mahrez and his team-mates. They will feeMenu Themesl as though they can go a long way here in Egypt.

TEAMS:

ALGERIA – 23 Rais MBOLHI: 2 Aissa MANDI, 4 Djamel BENLAMRI, 20 Youcef ATAL, 21 Amir BENSEBAINI, 7 Riyad MAHREZ – captain, 10 Sofiane FEGHOULI, 17 Adlane GUEDIOURA (19 Mehdi ABEID, 71′), 22 Ismael BENNACER, 8 Youcef BELAILI (11 Yacine BRAHIMI, 74′), 9 Baghdad BOUNEDJAH (15 Andy DELORT, 81′)

Reserves not used – 1 Izzeddine DOUKHA (gk), 16 Alexandre OUKIDJA (gk); 3 Mehdi TAHRAT, 5 Rafik HALLICHE, 6 Mohamed FARES, 18 Mehdi ZEFFANE,  12  Adam OUNAS, 14  Hichem BOUDAOUI,  13 Islam SLIMANI

Scorers: 9 Baghdad BOUNEDJAH (34′), 7 Riyad MAHREZ  (43′)

Coach: Djamel BELMADI (Algeria)

KENYA – Patrick MATASI: 2 Joseph OKUMU, 3 Abud OMAR, 5 Musa MOHAMMED, 20 Philemon OTIENO, 7 Ayub Timbe MASIKA, 10 Eric OMONDI (8 Johanna OMOLO, 72′), 11 Francis KAHATA (13 Erick OUMA, 71′), 12 Victor WANYAMA – captain, 21 Dennis OMINO (17 Ismael GONZALEZ, 89′), 14 Michael OLUNGA

Reserves – Faruk SHIKALO (gk), 23 John OYEMBA (gk), 4 Joash ONYANGO, 6 Benard OCHIENG’,  15 David ‘Calabar’ OWINO, 16 Paul WERE,  22 Ovella OCHIENG’, 9 John AVIRE, 19  Masud JUMA

Coach: Sébastien MIGNÉ (France)

-Additional reporting by Correspondents, Agencies and cafonline

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