The Harambee Stars tactician was left impressed by his team’s overall display and insists they deserved to beat the Pharaohs
Kenya coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee has admitted he was gutted to see Egypt leave Kasarani Stadium with a 1-1 draw in their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match played on Thursday.
The draw ended the Harambee Stars’ slim chances of making it to a second straight Afcon finals, to be held in Cameroon, as a goal from Mohamed Magdy ensured the Pharaohs joined Comoros as the teams to qualify from Group G.
Abdallah Hassan scored the goal that ensured Egypt and Kenya drew again even though the Harambee Stars were reduced to ten men after defender Johnstone Omurwa was red-carded in the 78th minute.
Mulee has claimed his players deserved to get more from the fixture and insisted he was especially impressed by the young players, who made their senior debuts on the day.
“I am disappointed we couldn’t pick all the three points at home because that was our game plan, however, I have to say I love the confidence and I like the way the boys executed our plan, how we had planned to play in that game,” Mulee told Goal.
“Definitely we knew Egypt needed to win here to be assured of qualification slot, if we had beaten them then they would have been forced to wait until the last game, it did not happen [to win the game], because we created more chances than them but we were not able to get the desired result.
“But however, I can say I am happy with mostly the local players who got their debut on the highest level, someone like Dan [Sakari] playing his first time, Abdallah [Hassan] playing in a big game like this one and they did not show any stage flight.
“So I would say it is a good beginning for the local-based players and they need to believe in themselves that they can do it.
“I said previously the Kenyan league is very competitive, and when you look at how people like Johnstone [Omurwa] also played in their first debut at senior level, it gives you hope, hope also to the local players that it is not impossible to be in the national team and perform.”
Mulee has further explained the display against Egypt has given his team a true picture of what to expect when they start their World Cup qualifying campaign.
“At least it gives us a picture of what to expect in the World Cup qualifying games that are coming up, we are in a group where we know we have Mali, Rwanda, and Uganda, it is not going to be an easy group,” Mulee continued.
“We know those are difficult opponents but looking at how we are rebuilding the team, there is a possibility that we can able to sneak in and gain more confidence and I believe before we can start the qualifiers, we can have a quality friendly match to gauge and bring more confidence to the players.”
On Kenya’s final group game against Togo on March 29, Mulee said: “Well I think we will have a few changes to the starting XI because of several factors, Kenneth [Muguna] is out injured then we don’t have Omurwa because he got a red card in the game against Egypt
“So those are two obvious changes we are going to make into the team and see what happens in that game.
“It is a game we don’t want to lose at least we need to finish the group in a respectable position and with a respectable result.
“We are going to Togo to try to win that game, it is a long time since Kenya won away from home, it is not going to be an easy match but judging from our performance against Egypt, if we can just equal the same away then we believe we can finish third in the group.”
Kenya will leave for Lome, Togo on Saturday and will have a feel of the field of play later in the day as they wrap up their final Group G match.