December 7, 2021

‘Kenya U20 still need to push more’ – Okumbi downplays win against Ethiopia

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The Rising Stars tactician calls on his players to make sure they give their all in their next match at the regional tournament

Kenya U20 coach Stanley Okumbi has admitted his players must push more to remain in contention to win the Cecafa championships being held in Tanzania.

The Rising Stars got off to a flying start after they thrashed Ethiopia 3-0 in their opening Group C match but Okumbi has now said they must up their game to win their next match.

“I think we still need to push more, we have our final match of the group against Sudan which we need to give our maximum to get all three points,” Okumbi is quoted as saying by FKF’s official website.

“In the first 15 minutes [against Ethiopia] we were a bit slow, but we managed to keep a clean sheet. Thereafter, I can confidently say we were on top of the game, and the boys showed character and desire to win the game. Collectively, we played a great game.”

Against Ethiopia, Gor Mahia striker Benson Omalla, Ronald Reagan, and Enock Wanyama scored for Kenya, who could have won by a huge margin had they taken their chances.

Kenya grabbed the first goal in the 39th minute when Omalla rose highest to head home a cross from the right and their push for the second goal bore fruit in the 46th minute when Ethiopia goalkeeper failed to keep hold of a high ball and Omalla flicked it to Reagan who had no trouble finding the back of the net.

With five minutes remaining on the clock, a long ball from the back fell to Omalla whose first touch put him past the defender. He steadied himself but with the keeper to beat, he spotted the advancing and unmarked Enock Wanyama who tapped the ball into an empty net.

The Rising Stars will now face Sudan in their final Group C match on Friday, after which the winner from the group will come up against the winner of Group B, which consists of Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi.

In Group B, The Hippos of Uganda were held to a goalless draw by South Sudan. Burundi are also in the same group. Group A has the hosts Tanzania, Somalia and Djibouti.

The semi-final and final matches have been scheduled for November 30, and December 2, 2020, respectively. The finalists from the regional competition will gain automatic qualification to the Africa U20 Cup of Nations set to take place in February 2021 in Mauritania.