Kenya’s national football team, Harambee Stars is preparing to represent the country at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be staged in Cairo, Egypt. Coach Sebastien Migne has already named his 23-man squad in which he has put his trust on those he thinks will represent the nation well.
The French tactician is known to be a big enthusiast of the ‘park the bus’ style of play. This is the style where a team concentrates on defending and hitting the opposition on counter attacks. In fact, in Migne’s 23 man squad, there are only 3 strikers which probably means he will be concentrating on the defence.
Seemingly, Migne plans to use counter attacks to hit opponents and probably sit back for the rest of the game after scoring. It is a technique that has worked in various situations for Kenya and other teams. In fact, Migne might have borrowed the ‘park the bus’ technique from the former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho who is widely known for it.
However, defeating opponents on counters needs prolific players who will deliver from the few chances they get. Players with speed and precision but mostly speed are the primary requirement for counter attack football.
Business today looked at the 23-man AFCON squad and predicted the players Migne will use for his counter attacks. Here are the speedsters in the Harambee Stars AFCON squad.
[Read: KBC acquires rights to air all AFCON matches]
Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol, Japan)
Most fans know Olunga for his finishing skills as he has scored several goals for Harambee Stars and is the first choice striker for the team. Olunga’s impact is felt even at his club as they did not feel good with letting him leave for AFCON as they needed him to continue bagging goals in Japan.
Olunga has the speed, the skill and the finishing touch and he would obviously play a key role in Star’s counter attacks. The 25-year-old has the trust of most if not all Kenyans who are confident that he will find the back of the net at least once.
Paul Were (AFC Leopards, Kenya)
Were is a pacy winger with vast experience and currently plays his club football at local Kenyan club, AFC Leopards, which is one of the most supported clubs in East Africa. Were has the pace, the skill and the finishing touch.
However, his finishing touch cannot be compared to Olunga’s as the latter is a striker whilst the former is a winger. When it comes to counter attacks, Were can provide the pace from the wings and has good crosses.
The left footed winger is comfortable on the left wing where he will be delivering lethal out-swinger crosses. With a finisher like Olunga in front of goal, Were’s crosses can be important to Harambee Stars at the continental tourney.
[See also: Miheso, Mbamba dropped from Harambee Stars’ AFCON squad.]
Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe, China)
Timbe missed some part of Harambee Stars qualification campaign due to a knee injury he picked in December. The winger’s fitness came at the right time as his pace will be needed by the French tactician in order to precisely use the counter attack chances the team will have in Egypt.
The winger is comfortable with using both feet so Migne can put him on either wings, If put on the right wing, Timbe will liaise with Were to feed Olunga with the ball during counter attacks. He is also a good finisher and has the necessary skills to cause problems to the opponent’s defence.
Eric Johanna (IF Bromma, Sweden)
Just like Timbe, Johanna is both footed and can play in either wings. In Timbe’s absence, Johanna performed well on the right wing to help Harambee Stars qualify for AFCON.
Johanna’s potential was clearly seen in Stars’ match against Ethiopia, the match that confirmed Kenya’s AFCON qualification. He provided an assist, a goal and a penalty which was finished off by skipper Victor Wanyama.
Johanna, Timbe and Were will have to fight it out for a position in the team at the tournament but Kenyans ought to feel confident with either duo on the flanks.
Speed will be key if Harambee Stars are to make it to the knockout stages of the competition. If Migne will be use counter attacks to look for goals then the aforementioned speedsters will be vital for him.
[Related: Harambee Stars AFCON opponents release blockbuster squads]