Birthday boy Olunga’s double helps Stars sink DR Congo
Kenyan international Michael Olunga notched a brace on his birthday as the national team Harambee Stars defeated DR Congo 2-1 in a friendly match played at the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on Sunday.
It was the second win in two over the highly Central Africans, with the Kenyans having won the reverse in Kinshasa as the home team took their unbeaten run to a staggering 10 matches.
Olunga put the hosts ahead in the sixth before former Chelsea FC player Gael Kakuta pulled the visitors level in the 60th minute. Kenya responded ten minutes later as Olunga struck his second and the decisive goal.
“We need to keep this momentum going and going into the African Cup of Nations qualifiers we need to ensure we win all our home games. The beauty of this unbeaten record is that we’re scoring but we need to start keeping clean sheets and avoid repeating mistakes,” First Coach Stanley Okumbi told Citizen Digital.
The Leopards needed less than a minute to register their first attempt on goal as Jonathan Bolingi combined well with Junior Kabananga create the first chance of the match.
Kabananga’s final shot was however cleared off for a corner by defender Jockins Atudo who was making a return to Okumbi’s line-up.
Kenya recollected quickly as the midfield pairing of Captain Victor Wanyama and Johanna Omollo quickly brought the composure to the home side.
Kenya’s breakthrough came just minutes later as a quick interplay between South African-based Brian Mandela and Jesse Were led to a final pass that released Olunga who fired high into the roof for the opener.
The lively Kabananga then saw his free-kick hit the side-netting before Remi Mulumba and Kebano Neeskens both wasted clear cut chances in the box as the hosts poured forward in search of an quick response.
Aboud Omar then made a last-ditch goal-line clearance to deny Neeskens and save goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch the blushes.
Olunga should have grabbed a first half brace but the Guizhou Zhicheng striker lost his footing and scuffed his shot wide following a move initiated by Samuel Onyango.
With the half time approaching, Bolingi saw his header sail just wide before Kabananga forced Oluoch to a diving save.
Congo came from the break showing more intent and pressing the Kenyans higher up their own half with an equalizing goal increasingly looking likely.
Onyango, who was playing in only his second match for Stars was gifted a chance to register his first goal in the national colours but failed to finish from a one-on-one situation as goalkeeper Joel Kiasumbua thwarted his effort.
The Kenyan defence was finally breached and it was Kakuta who restored parity with a spectacular free-kick from outside the box.
Olunga had the final say, tapping in from a rebound after Onyango’s first attempt was punched back into play.
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