Olunga strike not enough as Stars fall to Iraq
Harambee Stars’ late rally ended in vain as they went down 2-1 to Iraq in a friendly match played at the Basra Stadium on Thursday night.
The hosts got their job done early with two first half goals courtesy of Brwa Nouri and Ahmed Ibrahim before Michael Olunga, like he always does in the national team colours, found the net in the dying minutes.
Nouri gave the hosts the early advantage when he converted from the spot in the 18th minute after Justin Meram had been tripped inside the penalty area.
It was his first goal for the national team and he took it well, stroking it down the middle to fool keeper Patrick Matasi who dived to his right.
Ibrahim doubled the lead in the second minute of added time, glancing a brilliant header off the corner to leave First Coach Stanley Okumbi with the harder task at half time and their 30,000 home fans in applause.
At the restart, Okumbi made a double change withdrawing uninspiring Posta Rangers defender Simon Mbugua for experienced Gor Mahia Captain Musa Mohammed, as his counterpart Ernest Wendo paved way for Zambia-based attacker Mark Makwatta.
The changes seemed to give Stars more stability and there was time for Kariobangi Sharks striker Masoud Juma to take the place of Zesco United’s Jesse Were.
Aboud Omar was swift in delivering crosses in the box from the left wing, with Olunga coming close in the 68 only to miss before an empty net. Makwatta had set up Olunga who beat an advancing Iraq’s custodian but hit the side netting.
The visitors’ efforts finally paid off with Samuel Onyango, guilty of conceding the early penalty, atoning for his mistake with the assist for Olunga’s goal.
Okumbi’s men shift focus to their second friendly against Thailand on Saturday where they will seek a quick rebound.
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