Afcon 2019: Harambee Stars failed to test beatable Algerians- Boniface Ambani

The Teranga Lions will hope to get the better of the Desert Foxes as they seek qualification for the knockout stage of the tournament
The Teranga Lions will hope to get the better of the Desert Foxes as they seek qualification for the knockout stage of the tournament

Former Kenya international Boniface Ambani has said Harambee Stars have no excuse after losing the opening match against Algeria in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.

Kenya went down to two goals in the first half at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo and Ambani, who has also played for Yanga SC, AFC Leopards and Oserian FC has claimed that the match was very much winnable for Harambee Stars.

"We suffered stage fright and maybe players got the fear that they were lining up against Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani. That should not have happened at all and (Patrick) Matasi is to blame to some extent. The goalkeeper never looked at ease almost every moment the Algerians were attacking," Ambani told Radio Maisha.

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"He (Matasi) should have calmed and helped his players calm too. You know he is on an advantaged position compared to the rest of the players and he should have acted as a leader instead of showing signs of a frightened man."

Ambani added that Kenya should have faced the Desert Warriors the way they played against Ghana's Black Stars in the qualifiers.

"We accorded Algeria a lot of respect and in my opinion, this Algerian team was beatable with a little sense of confidence. It was not the frightening team I have known before. Look at how we played against Ghana both at home and away. We were confident and we attacked something that we should have done on Sunday," the retired footballer added.

The Madagascar and DR Congo test matches should have acted as a confidence boost for the national team according to Ambani.

"There is no excuse for us at all in losing that match. The team prepared well, had a high profile friendly matches, unlike in our time when we used to play against AFC Leopards or Gor Mahia or even Oserian," he explained.

He also said that the decision to leave Kenyan Premier League(KPL)  top scorers was certain to affect the team. Ulinzi Stars Enosh Ochieng scored 21 goals while Allan Wanga of Kakamega Homeboyz ended the season with 18 goals but none was selected.

Zesco United's Jesse Were has also been in good form for his club in Zambia but failed to make the cut.

"The selection was also not done in a manner that we could have gone to Egypt with confidence. Look we have no Ochieng in the team, there is no Wanga and Were is not there despite their fine forms with their clubs," Ambani concluded.

Kenya will play Tanzania on Thursday before winding up the Group C duties against Senegal on July 1.

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