COSAFA Cup: Emerging Stars coach Ken Odhiambo reveals tactics used against defending champions Zambia


COSAFA Cup: Emerging Stars coach Ken Odhiambo reveals tactics used against defending champions Zambia

Festus Chuma 08:05 - 28.06.2024

Kenya's Under-23 team executed a strategic game plan to secure a 2-0 win over Zambia in a match played at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Kenya's Under-23 head coach Ken Odhiambo has shed light on his game plan in Thursday's 2-0 victory over Zambia at the COSAFA Cup in South Africa.

The win saw the Emerging Stars taking the lead in Group B, edging out on goal difference after a tightly contested match day.

Kenya displayed a dynamic and aggressive strategy right from the whistle and they capitalized on their chances early, putting two goals past the Zambian defense within the first 18 minutes of play.

Austin Odhiambo and Patrick Otieno shone as key players, each scoring to secure the lead which they maintained till the final whistle.

"We knew it wasn't going to be easy; in fact, this was the game we expected to be difficult. In the first half, we aimed to score early goals so that in the second half, we could ensure they played in front of us," the coach said in a post-match interview.

Odhiambo elaborated on his strategy noting the Zambian team's tendencies and how the Kenyan side planned to exploit them.

"Their fullbacks were attempting to overlap in the first half, so we knew if we could get the ball and put it behind them, we would have space to cross it and then finish," he said.

The coach also highlighted his defensive tactics aiming to stifle Zambia's ability to create scoring opportunities.

"When we arrived, we recognized they were a strong side. Our goal was to deny them by not allowing them to pass in the passing lanes and to make sure they couldn't bring in those crosses because they were trying to spread us wide," he noted.

Despite the success, Odhiambo acknowledged there were areas needing improvement.

"Another thing we knew was that if we scored early goals, they would come at us, and we could hit them on the counter. However, that strategy didn't work very well, and it's an area we need to work on. Now this game is behind us, and we are looking ahead to the Comoros game. If we win, we will be in the knockout stages," he concluded.

The match against Zambia not only highlighted Kenya’s tactical acumen but also their physical preparedness.

After securing an early lead through a penalty converted by Gor Mahia's star player Austin Odhiambo, the team continued to press.

Their relentless pace and agility were evident when Patrick Otieno doubled the lead, following a swift attack orchestrated by a combination of youthful exuberance and strategic foresight.

Their next encounter against Comoros is crucial and a victory there would secure their place in the knockout stages of the 2024 COSAFA Cup.

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