Chipolopolo strike late to deny Kenya
The Kenyan national football team, Harambee Stars, let slip the chance to climb above Zambia’s Chipolopolo in group E of the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), conceding a late goal at the Nelson Mandela national stadium for one-all draw in a match that was meaningless in the context of qualification.
Kenya international, Ayub Timbe Masika, opened the scoring for the Stars in the 63rd minute with a delightful lob before Chipolopolo skipper, Rainford Kalaba, struck the equalizer in the dying minutes of the match with a tap-in at the far post.
Zambia started the livelier of the two, creating the better chances in the first half and forcing goalkeeper Bonface Oluoch into making two saves inside the first ten minutes.
Oluoch had to be alert to keep out a stinging long range shot from the Chipolopolo captain, Rainford Kalaba, in the 3rd minute before getting in the way of winger Lubambo Musonda’s squared pass across the face of the goal.
Pacey winger Ayub Timbe Masika then had a run at the Zambian defence a minute later, breaking free from his marker with a real drop of the shoulder and quick feet but was unable to square the ball across for the men in white.
The effort won the Kenyans their first corner but Erick Ouma’s delivery was too strong, going out on the other end for a throw in.
Zambia’s Nathan Sinkala then nutmegged Kenyan international defender Aboud Omar – who turns out for Bulgaria’s PFC Slavia Sofia – with Brian Mandela coming to his rescue with a last-ditch tackle to send the ball out for a corner.
Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma headed clear the corner kick before David ‘Calabar’ Owino then received a yellow card for a reckless challenge in the 37th minute with Kalaba driving an effort to the near post that hit the side netting from the resulting free-kick.
The Kenyans started applying late pressure just before the break, with Zesco United striker Jesse Were who was preferred over Michael Olunga for a starting berth heading over Eric Johanna’s cross.
Marcelo had a tame effort saved comfortably by keeper Jacob Banda before the referee blew the whistle for half time.
Kalaba continued tormenting the Kenyan defence in the second half winning a free-kick just at the edge of the box in the 56th minute with Musa Mohammed being booked for his challenge. However, the TP Mazembe midfielder’s effort came off the wall for a corner.
Lubambo Musonda was withdrawn before the corner kick was taken, with his substitute, Rodrick Kabwe, heading straight to take the duty upon himself. His ball was cleared into the path of Clatous Chama, who shot wide for goal kick.
Coach Stanley Okumbi made a change in the 60th minute, introducing Danson Kago in place of Marcelo.
A nice long pass from skipper Victor Wanyama put Timbe through, with the Lierse man outmuscling and outrunning his marker to lob the ball over the advancing keeper for the opener.
Olunga then replaced Were in the 65th minute as Okumbi looked to put the tie to bed.
Chipolopolo Head Coach, George Lwandamina, responded by bringing on Felix Katongo and Paul Katema for Kondwani Mtonga and Clatous Chama six minutes later.
Olunga had a goal disallowed for a foul play in the 75th and just as it seemed Stars were on course for a famous win, poor concentration allowed Katongo to lift a low ball into the path of Kalaba who tucked it expertly past Oluoch for the leveler.
The result ensures Kenya remain bottom of Group E with five points from six matches while Zambia stays third with seven points.
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