The team has a final encounter with Algeria which cannot change results as to proceeding with the next stage of the competition, where Algeria had already qualified, and Senegal was leading the pack for the other three. Tanzania had the weakest results in the group, but they did not play below standard, and also didn’t concede three clean goals without reply
The reason the Taifa Stars captain urged the fans to walk tall and be happy with the performance was not because it doesn’t matter if we qualify for the next stage or not, but rather that we put up a spirited performance. It is amply clear that the team wasn’t humiliated, and despite the fact that Lady Luck is always on rampage, where fate hovers over effort and ability. In this case all sorts of factors worked to bring about not desired results but the logical match outcome, going by data, and even player profiles, as Kenya has most of its players in foreign teams, even top level clubs.
For one thing, the third goal that Harambee Stars scored against our side came right after key defender Erasto Nyoni was helped to hobble out of the pitch with injury, and before the defense settled to cover the gap, or Frank Domayo find his feet, the goal was struck. And it wasn’t a ball that came from lack of attention and scored into an empty net, but to the contrary. The ball hit the inside of the far right pole at the grass level and bounced back into the net, which was an impossible angle for any goalkeeper to dive from the middle of the goalposts to take care of it.
In that sense the third goal came out of particularly accurate shooting from Michael Olunga on the 80th minute, his second goal in the match. Even then, he found room to shoot following the hobbling out of Nyoni, as closer marking might have diminished his ability to get the ball into accurate perspective and shooting range. The fact that all such circumstances had to be in place for Harambee Stars to get the third goal is indicative of the strength of opposition that they faced.
Looking at the background data and the results, and compare with the rest of the group, one finds that Taifa Stars played at their level best and obtained the sort of results they could predictably have obtained. It means they could have gone one better only with a change of circumstance, but when it happened it was to our cost, for instance injury on Nyoni, or scoring the second goal as Mudathir Yahya left the pitch earlier on 39 minutes, etc. All these aspects are part of a match, as getting injured may also involve errors on the part of the player, but mostly it is accident, motion.
Data shows that in two international friendly matches between Kenya and Tanzania we obtained draws, while in two consecutive tournament matches before the latest showdown, the results were 1-0 in favor of Kenya. That the same score line was maintained in the AFCON group encounter evidently shows that nothing has changed in the mettle –the tactical ad psychological standing in open competition. It means that the results reflect our ability on the pitch, and not any errors on the part of players. We were not humiliated but did not overreach our known capacities.
That means our qualification was by and large rational, as even in qualification we had to wait for results of another game, which ended in a barren draw and gave us the chance to go through. Had either of the two sides, Cape Verde or Lesotho, obtained three points say by a one goal positive result, Tanzania would not have qualified, in which case it must be admitted that we scraped through to the finals, and demonstrated not just that we scraped through, but can put up a spirited fight as well. In that case we did an honor to our qualification, but didn’t beat the odds, and as the Taifa Stars captain says, that is enough reason to be proud of our side, singularly that.