Analysis : How Kayci Odhiambo can be AFC Leopards' John Stones in a hybrid midfield-center back role

FKFPL Analysis : How Kayci Odhiambo can be AFC Leopards' John Stones in a hybrid midfield-center back role

Mark Kinyanjui 08:32 - 02.03.2024

Man City manager Pep Guardiola has been using John Stones in a hybrid midfield-center back role. Given Kayci is a midfielder-cum center back at AFC Leopards, could he be Tomas Trucha's version of the English defender at the club?

On Sunday afternoon, AFC Leopards knocked out PAC University 3-0 courtesy of a hat-trick by January signing Arthur Gitego to sail into the round of 16 of the FKF Cup, where they will be facing Shabana.

Although head coach Tomas Trucha named a strong starting lineup for the match, keener observers raised eyebrows when he opted to start Kayci Odhiambo, the captain for the day, back in midfield.

Those who follow English football keenly will know that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola also used John Stones, a natural center back, as a midfielder for the last stage of last season alongside Rodri, and it was in this position where he would alternate as a hybrid midfield-defender (half-back).

Kayci is actually a natural midfielder turned center back, the position he had to grow into when he went on trial with the club in 2020, so being returned into midfield was interesting considering many assumed he had grown out of that position.

You see, Kayci is arguably one of the league’s best ball-playing defenders. It has been a regular occurence to see him bringing the ball out of defence from left center back position next to Randi Bakari this season, or even give line breaking passes, but not common to see him in a more advanced role.

Trucha opted to use the match to hand Kennedy Owino his first start since signing in January, and pushed Kayci into midfield to play alongside Boniface Kweyu, while reliable defensive midfielder Musa Oundo was left out of the side.

Kayci actually played a very integral part in the win, providing two assists in a more advanced position, which will surely give Trucha plenty to ponder about his use moving forward considering that on paper, the prospect of pairing him with Owino looks very tantalising.

This piece will analyse:

  • How Kayci performed in midfield against PAC

  • Whether he was convincing enough to stay there on a permanent basis

  • What this could mean for the side moving forward

How Kayci Performed in midfield against PAC 

Understandably. Leopards had a lot of possession against a team playing against a team of such magnitude for the first time, which naturally allowed Kayci to pass the ball as much as possible.

Take this case in the ninth minute, where Kayci receives the ball from Kennedy Owino.

Kayci scans up to see if there is someone pressing him and where the ball will go to, and so he takes a glace up before receiving the ball from Kennedy Owino.

Kayci scans the pitch even as he anticipates for Owino to pass him the ball

He receives the ball and then gives a line-breaking pass to Cliff Nyakeya.

He spots Cliff Nyakeya on the left making a run, before giving him a line breaking pass

Kayci’s understanding of the center back position meant that he was willing to drop deep to receive the ball in build up, with the idea being to draw one of his markers out of position and create space for other players to move into position.

He was also constantly scanning to ensure that even upon being put under pressure, he would find a way to bypass it, as seen in the 14th minute when he spotted Aziz Okaka at right back and passed the ball to him after realising he could not work his way out.

Kayci receives the ball from Ken Owino but knows he is under pressure from three PAC players
He spots Aziz Okaka on the right and sends him a floated pass

Kayci’s more advanced positioning meant that he could try to find the attackers in good positions as much as possible 

Aside from being good on the ball, Kayci was intelligent enough to know when to put the opposition under pressure before winning the ball and launching attacks, as we saw for Gitego’s first goal.

Kayci is quick to spot that the PAC keeper is set to pass the ball to a midfielder, so he instantly puts him under pressure
He wins the ball quickly before setting it up to Gitego who carries the ball into the box
Before finding the back of the net.

He also provided the assist for the second goal, again, scanning the pitch and knowing where the ball will go before receiving it.

Kayci receives a throwin from Vincent Mahiga before he turns and sends an inswing cross from deep to Gitego
Who heads the ball into the back of the net.

Kayci can also drop deep to receive possession as the side aim at recycling possession during their emphasis to build from the back.

It is shown in the screenshot below in the 60th minute where he drops between both Owino and Randi Bakari who have occupied the wider spaces after Aziz Okaka and Vincent Mahiga take up high and wide positions.

Kayci drops deep to receive posession from keeper Humphrey Katasi
Kayci receives the ball and puts his studs on the ball to assess his options
Before passing the ball to Randi Bakari on the right
Bakari passes the ball back to Kayci
Who instantly passes it back to Bakari before PAC players move to pressure him
This alows Kayci to move into the space vacated on the right to meet the return pass
This allows him to pass the ball forward to Aziz Okaka, and Leopards successfuly get the ball into the middle third.

Was he convincing enough to stay there on a permanent basis?

It is expected that, when AFC Leopards resume league action, Kayci will move back to his center back role. He was possibly used against PAC in midfield as Trucha thought it would be a good game to test him back in that role given the nature of the opposition.

First choice defensive midfielder Oundo will likely retain his place alongside Boniface Kweyu, but in the off season, there is a possibility that we might see Kayci in midfield on a more regular basis.

What could this mean for AFC Leopards moving forward?

As Trucha continues building a team that can genuinely start becoming competitive again, he will want as many options as possible both for quality purposes, and also for competition for places, as well as tactical flexibility.

Having Kayci capable of playing these roles given his tactical intelligence, understanding of the game and quality on the ball will be valuable.

If he can also stay fit given his fitness problems, it will even be a more added advantage.