Kenya XI; Origi- Olum, Owino, Mandela, Odhiambo- Okoth, Wanyama, Were, Timbe- Oliech, Olunga.
Zambia XI; Mwenee- Chepeshi, Mkandawire, Sunzu, Katebe- Sinkala, Chirwa, Lungu- Kalaba, Kalengo, Mbesuma.
Bobby Williamson lined his team as had been predicted. He started with two defensive midfielders and opted for two strikers in the game. His wingers were drifting between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3.
Kenya start strongly
Kenya untypically settled fast into the game possibly because Zambia wanted to figure out their approach. `The Chipolopolo chose to field a high defensive line in the hope for closing down passing spaces for Kenya. This played into the home team’s hands. They had plenty of space to attack behind and used their long passes to take advantage of this. In the opening 10 minutes, both Kenyan strikers had gotten a taste of running behind the defensive line. Zambia didn’t figure it out and were soon a goal behind after Olunga took advantage of miscommunication between Mwenee and his defenders.
The hosts were transitioning well because every time they got the ball they released it to acres of space to be attacked. This allowed the 1v1 situations that Harambee Stars crave for their forwards and they excelled at this. They especially oriented to their left side in what seemed to be a ploy keep the ball far away from Kalaba. Timbe was the best in these instances but Oliech, Were and even Olunga looked comfortable when running to the defender (s).
Zambia had been trying to find Kalaba from their goal-kicks but the Kenyan team was simply superior on aerial balls. They changed tact and decided to build up towards the Kenyan goal. Expectedly, it worked because Zambia’s orienting between 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 allowed them to always have an extra-outlet for the pass. Not to mention Chisamba Lungu gave them a focal point for distributing through the middle. Conversely, Kenya completed lacked the means to move through the centre.
At the half hour mark Zambia was level. The Kenyan defense was late in closing down the ball carriers and showed poor compaction as well; scorer Kalengo still had a passing option to his right in the penalty box. For the second goal, Wanyama was at fault. Tasked with marking Mbesuma and marshalling infront of the centrebacks, he showed poor concentration in allowing Mbesuma to attack the said space from a throw-in.
Lack of options
It is remarkable that in the entire hour of the Olunga-Oliech partnership the two did not link up with one another. It goes to show the frailty of Kenya’s approach; an unhealthy dependence on individual plays to create chances. Timbe, particularly, could have upped his dribbling if he had an option to link up with every moment he was under pressure. This means using him to create space more than to actively create scoring chances.
Kenya had complete control in the second half but only looked to create danger from one means. They were primarily looking for Olunga’s head-the Zambians simply couldn’t handle his stature. The Zambians looked content to preserve their lead but Kenya hardly caused them problems. As is the norm, passing was too slow in the build-up and switching play was equally laborious.
Kenya portrayed all the frailties anticipated and Zambia was marginally superior as had been expected. Credit has to be given since Kalaba did not impose himself in the match. Kenya, though need to fix issues of central attack but that’s a deep rooted issue of its own. The Rama Salim’s and Kevin Kimani’s types are not even among the KPL’s best players.