EXCLUSIVE: 'We refused to play' – Migne admits Kenya were scared in Afcon opener against Algeria

The Harambee Stars were hoping for a flying start, but a poor performance saw them end the game with nothing but red faces

Kenya coach Sebastien Migne has admitted that his side were stricken with fear during their Africa Cup of Nations opener against Algeria on Sunday. 

First half strikes from Baghdad Bounedjah and Riyad Mahrez condemned the Harambee Stars to a 2-0 defeat in the Group C fixture against the Desert Foxes in Cairo.

Migne’s men tried to reduce the deficit in the second half, but all efforts proved futile, and the coach disclosed that his team lacked the fighting spirit to halt the onslaught from the 1990 African champions.

“The problem is when you perform very well only in one half it is difficult to win a match,” he told Goal.

“Our showing in the first half was poor. I don't know if it was due to a lack of experience in such a competition. We were under pressure.

“There was no leadership in the defence. [Brian] Mandela got injured during our preparations and we had to rely on the young [Joseph] Okumu, who was playing his first official match.

“Perhaps the game was too tough for him. However, we have to acknowledge the quality of the opposing team, who are one of the favourites for the title.”

Kenya face Tanzania in their next game on Thursday, and the Frenchman is hoping charges learn fast from their mistakes against Algeria, and ensure victory over their East African neighbours.

“Now, we need to learn and do that quickly because in four days we have another game. If we play very well in both halves we can claim our first win and then play a 'final' against Senegal,” Migne continued.

“Everything is possible. We have played Tanzania before. We will try and defeat them and then play the 'final' against Senegal.

“What we need to change going forward is our fighting spirit. We were afraid against Algeria. We refused to play. But, we will work on this during the next few days.

“We are a team that can learn quickly. I don't know if it's an advantage for us to play our neighbours Tanzania, but I will give you an answer after the game.”

The Harambee Stars sit at the base of Group C and victory against Emmanuel Amuneke’s team will be a major boost in their quest to progress to the knockout phase.

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