Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi feels there is more to take away from his side’s 2-1 victory over Zambia’s Chipolopolo in Friday’s international friendly match at Nyayo National Stadium.
Egyptian-based winger Cliff Nyakeya was involved in both goals that gave Kenya a morale-boosting win ahead of next month’s two-legged 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers tie against Group G leaders Comoros.
Kenya took the lead in the 21st minute when Mwape Tandi accidentally redirected Nyakeya’s cross from the right channel into his own net following a clever pass from Kenneth Muguna.
Muguna once again set up the Masr midfielder for the second goal in the 35th minute before Emmanuel Chabula came off the bench to pull one back for the former African champions.
But the Kenyans survived a late scare when Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s men were controversially denied a clear equaliser by the referee in 84th minute.
Though Harambee Stars lacked their normal intensity due to lack of enough preparation time, Kimanzi said he was pleased with his charges’ output.
Being the first match in the country in over seven months, the Dutch-trained coach expected his boys to struggle with fitness in the later stages of the game.
“It’s a great game for us. I’m more than delighted for the result because I didn’t get enough time to prepare the players and I was even forced to use players with low fitness levels. I knew we would struggle in the last twenty minutes or so and that actually happened with a few players looking exhausted; this because of the situation we have gone through,” said Kimanzi.
“But the important thing is that we’ve gotten the win against a very tough Zambian team. I think this victory has given us a good platform for the upcoming Afcon qualifiers against Comoros. If we had a bad game, it would have burdened us but since we struggled and got the result, it will motivate us.”
However, Micho whose team will face Botswana in next month’s Afcon qualifiers had a different view of the encounter.
The Serbian felt they were robbed an equaliser by the referee as he challenged African countries to embrace the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology.
Having dominated the better part of the match, the former Uganda and Rwanda coach thinks his team did not deserve to lose.
“First of all, we knew we are coming to play against a very competitive team and it exactly happened on the field,” said Micho.
“We believe that we dominated from start to an end and cracked in just two occasions. When you play away and concede from counter-attacks this is simply unacceptable. So, we conceded from those two situations (blunders). We regrouped, changed the pace of the game in the second half, come to the opponent, created chances and scored. All those talking that VAR is not needed in football, they could see that the ball clearly crossed the line.
He added: “It’s not that I thought the ball was in, but people have seen and let’s be clear to that. All those that are talking about VAR not being in football, it needs to be in football especially on big level. Anyway, if we are supposed lose, let’s lose in a friendly match and learn the lessons looking forward to Afcon qualifiers. But I’m extremely satisfied with the way we applied ourselves.”