Shame as Mali thrash Harambee Stars 5-0 in Morocco
- Interestingly, Mali boasts of six goals now, five of them scored against Kenya, as they beat Rwanda by a solitary goal in the same town before drawing Uganda 0-0 in Kampala.
- Firat’s confusion was evident just from the squad he started, playing some players out of their usual positions, probably justifying questions Kenyans and pundits raised on the timing of his appointment.
- With his fielding, the Turkish and former Moldova coach who was appointed three weeks ago, exposed little knowledge of the team and probably, singular decisions without much opinion of his assistants.
Engin Firat made a terrible debut with Harambee Stars and mathematically confirmed the end of Kenya’s march to Qatar 2022 World Cup, losing embarrassingly 5-0 to Mali on Thursday in Agadir, Morocco.
Ibrahima Kone hit a hat-trick as Adama Traore and Moussa Doumbia added one each, subjecting Kenya to such a defeat for the first time since 2005 when Morocco humbled then Stars side 5-1 in Rabat during the 2006 World Cup qualifiers.
Mali thus top Group E of the World Cup qualifiers with seven points, ahead of Uganda who have five following their Thursday 1-0 win in Kigali while Kenya and Rwanda have two and one respectively.
Interestingly, Mali boasts of six goals now, five of them scored against Kenya, as they beat Rwanda by a solitary goal in the same town before drawing Uganda 0-0 in Kampala.
Firat’s confusion was evident just from the squad he started, playing some players out of their usual positions, justifying questions Kenyans raised on the timing of his appointment.
With his fielding, the Turkish and former Moldova coach who was appointed three weeks ago, exposed little knowledge of the team and probably, singular decisions without much opinion of his assistants.
He opted to start Simba SC centre-back Joash Onyango on the right full-back position, while deploying centre-forward Henry Meja on the right wing.
Still, he had Sofapaka FC midfielder Lawrence Juma as the shadow striker behind lead striker Micahel Olunga, while the left channel had Eric Ouma interchanging with Aboud Omar.
And when he noted the defense was leaking, Firat withdrew Onyango, perhaps the off-position he was exposing him.
In their usual places were goalkeeper Ian Otieno, deep midfielders Kenneth Muguna and Richard Odada; centre-backs Johnstone Omurwa and Joseph Stanley Okumu.
Kenya appeared confident in the early stages, but soon after conceding the first goal, the little efforts faded like dew after sunrise.
Just in the opening minute, Olunga missed narrowly after Aboud connected him into the box, with the keeper already beaten.
A miscommunication in Kenya’s defence almost gifted Mali the opener in their immediate reaction, keeper Otieno doing well to block Adama Traore who had been released into the box.
In the seventh, Odada missed a pass and Kone capitalised, sending the ball to unmarked Adama Traore who easily finished off for the opener.
At the quarter hour mark, Mali suffered a blow as Kiki Kouyate limped off, paving way for Mamadou Fofana with both sides still looking hungry for goals.
Musa Djenepo troubled Kenya’s defence on the right, before sending a fine cross into the box which Adama Traore headed to connect Kone, who headed past Otieno for the second goal in the 21st.
Four minutes later, Eric Ouma swung a sumptuous cross into the box, only for Olunga who had lost his marker to miss in his attempt to nod in.
Mali took full control of the match, forcing Harambee Stars coach Firat to make early changes, withdrawing Sofapaka FC’s Lawrence Juma and Joash Onyango for Eric Zakayo and Hassan Abdalla respectively.
Zakayo, the Tusker FC 18-year old, was making his debut in his first call up to the national team.
Kone was not yet done, completing his brace in the 35th from a corner to make it 3-0, a frustrated Firat responding with a resigned face as Mali continued to run riot.
A minute to the break, Kone completed his hat-trick from the spot to make it 4-0, after Abdalla was adjudged to have fouled Southampton man Djenepo in the box. He skillfully sent the ball into the right top corner as Otieno dived to the left, the glittering Sarpsborg striker being involved in all the four goals.
Upon resumption, Firat brought on goalkeeper Farouk Shikhalo for Otieno, and later withdrew Meja for Boniface Muchiri as he sought to avoid more shame on Kenya.
Ouma would also pave way for Duke Abuya with 12 minutes to regulation time, but there was to be no breakthrough for Stars.
Mali rested Falaye Sakho for Moussa Sisakho, the hero of the match Kone for El-Bilal Toure and Djenepo for Moussa Doumbia before introducing Lassine Sinayoko for goalscorer Adama Traore.
Olunga almost pulled one back in the 81st minute, after substitute Muchiri found him in the box from the left only to head it out.
But it was substitute Moussa Doumbia who would end the second half drought in the 85th, his deflected ball hitting the post before bouncing off Shikhalo’s hands to complete Kenya’s rout.
On Sunday, Kenya hosts Mali at the Nyayo National Stadium – Nairobi.
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