Kenya’s Harambee Stars’ crumbled towards the end of their international friendly away to the Atlas Lions of Morocco that saw them lose 3-0 on Monday night at the Marrakech Stadium received mixed reactions.
Head coach Bobby Williamson was happy with the performance of the team, noting that the Stars missed a number of chances and frustrated their opponents for long periods, before fumbling in the dying minutes.
“We lost to a very good team which has a lot of individual talent and is preparing to host the Africa Cup of Nations next year. We played well and I believe that is the level we need to be playing because Ayub Timbe and Danson Kago kept the Moroccan defenders busy and our goalkeeper was also fantastic,” said Williamson.
“We could have had a penalty in the first half which could have been a game changer, but in Africa, it has proved to be very hard to win away because of the referees. We conceded from small mistakes that came from the flanks and we have to do something on those areas,” added the Scottish tactician.
“The doors are still open, we will be watching players in the Kenyan Premier League and may be have some changes in the team, but we need more of these friendly matches to gauge ourselves,” he said.
Captain Victor Wanyama blamed inexperience for the loss. “This was a young and new team. We lacked experience and that is why we lost concentration and got punished severely,” said Wanyama.
Second half substitute Karnass El Mehdi of Norway’s Aalesunds FK broke the deadlock in the 77th minute when he beat an offside trap, turned in and left Edwin Baraza on the floor before curling in an unstoppable strike.
The first goal seemed to have deflated the spirited Kenyans who were playing in front of a fairly packed stadium, as they were caught against the run of play eight minutes after the first goal and Aboud Omar brought down Hamed-Allah Abderrazzaq inside the box.
Senegalese referee Malang Diedhiou pointed the spot before booking the Tusker player and Lokomotiv Moscow’s Mbark Boussoufa sent goalkeeper Arnold Origi the wrong way from the spot for Morocco’s second.
The third goal was also against the run of play, Geoffrey Kataka losing the ball on his half before El Khaliqi received a long cross on the flank and sent in a dangerous cross into the box that was easily tapped in by Raja Casablanca’s striker Iajour Mouhssine from close range.
Enock Agwanda almost scored with his first touch in the 92nd minute, but Moroccan custodian Yassine Bounou’s heroic save in a one-on-one situation denied him.