Rising Stars coach  Akhulia breaks silence after Four-Nations tournament


Rising Stars coach Akhulia breaks silence after Four-Nations tournament

Festus Chuma 06:09 - 28.03.2024

Kenya U20's stand-in head coach Anthony Akhulia has opened up in a rare statement days after the team's loss at the Four Nations Tournament in Malawi.

Kenya U20 assistent head coach Anthony Akhulia has expressed a heartfelt apology and reflected deeply on his team's performance at the Four Nations Tournament in Malawi, where the Rising Stars finished in second place.

The tournament, which turned out to be a tri-nation event following the withdrawal of one participating country, saw Kenya making a promising start before stumbling in the final hurdle against the hosts, Malawi.

"We went... we saw... we experienced... we learned. At some point, I felt like I had let all of you down," Akhulia shared in a poignant statement following the team's return to Kenya.

The Rising Stars' journey in the tournament was marked by a triumphant opening victory over Zimbabwe but ending in a 3-1 defeat to Malawi in what was the decisive match of the competition.

The final match on Sunday evening was a testament to both teams' determination, but Malawi's prowess proved overwhelming for the Kenyan side.

Despite Ezekiel Omuri's late goal giving Kenya a glimmer of hope, Malawi sealed their victory with a late strike, securing the top spot in the tournament with six points. Kenya, despite their valiant efforts, settled for second place with three points, reflecting on what might have been.

In his statement, Akhulia delved into a period of self-reflection, burdened by the weight of expectations and the harsh spotlight of criticism.

"After the final, I couldn't even leave my room for dinner... My mind was so occupied with so many questions... What if I could have started a whole new squad? What if we could have scored the numerous one-on-one scoring opportunities we created in the match?" he pondered.

Yet, amidst the introspection, Akhulia's message was one of gratitude and forward-looking optimism.

The Bidco FC gaffer extended his thanks to the Kenyan people for their unwavering support and to the government, particularly through CS Ababu Namwamba, for their investment in youth talent.

"To the Federation, thanks for the education and the opportunity to test and practice the knowledge you have imparted in us through the CAF courses and the belief you have in us... it is a process. We are learning; very soon... better will come," Akhulia affirmed.

Kenya finished second with three points, behind Malawi who topped the table with six points after their victories over Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The Stars' performance, particularly in their opening match against Zimbabwe, showed flashes of brilliance and a promising future, marred only by moments of defensive vulnerability against Malawi.

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