Ghost undeterred despite home setback against Comoros
Despite failing to bag maximum points at home against Comoros on Wednesday at home, Harambee Stars head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee says his charges can win away to Moroni on Sunday.
Stars, who were held to a 1-1 draw by the 2022 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers Group G leaders, jet out the country on Friday for the decisive return match.
While acknowledging the Islanders had proved they top the group by no fluke, Ghost insisted Stars are firm in their march to Cameroon for the continental extravaganza.
“Comoros are a very solid side, these guys have been together for over eight years so they have what we call automatisation in football. We have to say they were quite impressive. We now need to plan how it is going to be in Moroni. It is not going to be an easy game but football being what it is we could turn tables right there,” the Ghost said.
The veteran coach, returning to big stage football after over a decade break, conceded the team will need total composure to win away, terming Moroni “a difficult hunting ground.”
He however credited his team saying they gave their all, but were unlucky on the opponent’s goal especially in the second half. It is the hunger displayed in the clash that he says needs to be built on in the rematch.
“We created a lot of chances in the second half when they were a man down only that we could not score. We came so close on several occasions but sometimes you just can’t score. All in all I’m satisfied by the effort the boys have put.”
Asked if Michael Olunga’s absence contributed to the result with the many unconverted chances and how he intends to fix it, the coach defended his strikers of the day.
“It’s not about a striker because we had a couple of chances in front of their goal, we even had the captain (Victor Wanyama) almost scoring the second. You see when we pushed we had a lot of power upfront but the goal just couldn’t come. I mean, we tried all options from the wings to the middle but sometimes you can’t just score although you are there many times,” he noted.
While Comoros will be missing their most capped player Youssef M’changama who will be serving a match ban following Wednesday’s red card, Stars will still be without lead striker Olunga whose Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol is struck with Covid-19.
Still, Simba’s Joash Onyango has been dropped, with reports suggesting he tested positive for the virus, but the Tanzanian giants have dismissed the report.
Unlike in Nairobi where fans were not allowed into the stadium due to the strict COVID-19 regulations, Comoros government upon consultation with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has been allowed to let in 5,000 to rally behind their team.
If the 12th man advantage is anything to go by, Comoros will enjoy a privilege Stars did not in the first leg as only officials, a limited number of journalists and a few VVIP were at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani.
Stars will keenly be watching the Egypt-Togo tie on Saturday, praying for a draw to keep the group open. A win for Egypt would take them joint top with Comoros (five points), while a draw would leave Kenya level with the Pharaohs at three.
The top two teams at the conclusion of the qualifiers will advance to the Cameroon AFCON, postponed to the year from 2021 following CAF’s calendar disruption by the Covid-19 pandemic.