Togo dents coach Kimanzi’s desire to win all home matches
Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi is disappointed for not being able to pick maximum points against Togo during their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifying match at Kasarani Stadium on Monday night.
Club Brugge KV midfielder Johanna Omollo saw his 35th minute wonder strike cancelled by Hakim Ouro-Sama in the 64th minute to share the spoils and deny partying space for Kenyan fans who had turned up at the stadium to watch the match. Before the campaign commenced, Kimanzi had told People Daily that his target was to win all home matches, then look for at least two points from the three away fixtures, to guarantee Stars’ qualification and Monday’s stalemate looks like a slight set back to his plans, especially after a bright start to the campaign that saw them pick a point for the first time ever from multiple Africa champions Egypt, away from home.
“We came into the match confident of picking maximum points against Togo and that is why we were able to take the lead against them and kept on pressing to the end. However, they resorted to using long balls because they have tall players and it proved difficult for us to contain them, we were forced to struggle because they had to use the long balls and we did not anticipate they will use such techniques,” said Kimanzi.
He added: “We tried our best to adjust to their game plan but maybe it was too late and also we should have done better to defend their set-pieces because their equalising goal is something we could have easily avoided.” Kimanzi who is having his third stint as the team’s head coach, however, remained positive that Stars are still in contention to reach their second successive Afcon finals which will be held in Cameroon.
Meanwhile, Youcef Belaili scored direct from a corner to give defending champions Algeria a 1-0 away win over Botswana Monday during match day two of 2021 Afcon qualifying.
The Saudi Arabia-based winger took advantage of a strong wind in Gaborone to curve the ball over goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe into the far corner of the net on 14 minutes.
It proved the only goal of a foul-riddled match that ended with the home side down to 10 men after Gape Gaogangwe was sent off six minutes from time.
Fluid football was scarce on a hard, bumpy National Stadium pitch described by one commentator as “like trying to play in a car park”.
Algeria lacked captain and Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, who was excused from a journey covering virtually the length of Africa because of undisclosed “personal reasons”.
The trophy-holders top Group H with a maximum six points after they thrashed Zambia 5-0 in Blida last Thursday. Ghana also maintained a perfect start to qualifying for the 2021 tournament in Cameroon by winning 1-0 in Sao Tome and Principe through a 50th-minute penalty from Jordan Ayew.
-Additional reporting by Goal and AFP