New-look Kenya hits back to frustrate Uganda


New-look Kenya hits back to frustrate Uganda
Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga attempts to dribble past defender John Revita of Uganda Cranes. (PHOTO/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha)

In Summary

  • Kenya survived a first half assault and picked their moment to strike back as they held Uganda to a 1-1 draw in a friendly match at the Kasarani Stadium on Sunday
  • Francis Kimanzi gave three players their full debuts as he fielded a new-look side in his first match in charge since he was appointed to replace Sebastien Migne as the Kenyan head coach last month
Matthews Mutai in Nairobi

The Kenya national football team Harambee Stars survived a first half assault and picked their moment to strike back as they held Uganda Cranes to a 1-1 draw in a friendly match at the Kasarani Stadium on Sunday.

Emmanuel Okwi scored after some brilliant work from Luwagga Kizito and the skipper himself showed incredible composure to set himself up and fire beyond Patrick Matasi for the opener from close range in the 21st minute.

And Kenneth Muguna restored parity seven minutes into the second half when he arrived late to poke home after Ayub Timbe had floated an inviting low cross into the Ugandan box.

Francis Kimanzi gave three players their full debuts as he fielded a new-look side in his first match in charge since he was appointed to replace Sebastien Migne as the Kenyan head coach last month.

Uganda made a blistering start, peppering the Kenyan goal-mouth with a flurry of attacks and should have found the opener when Okwi turned his marker and attempted to find the top corner with a curler after receiving a quick throw in from Mustafa Kizza.

But Matasi spectacularly saved it, flying sharply to his left, got a hand on it and punched it out for a corner. The Ugandans came knocking at Matasi’s door again with Allan Okello unable to finish from a move he had orchestrated himself.

Okello had cut through midfield, squeezed a pass to Kizito who touched it into the space behind the Kenyan defence where his teammate had run into. He took one touch and slammed an effort against the post.

In truth, it was going to be difficult to beat Matasi and still find the target from that tight an angle and the midfielder should have squared it down to Okwi who was waiting across to his right for what would have been a simple tap-in.

Kizito beat Samuel Olwande after winning an air-ball then made way into the box before cutting back for Okwi who left Joash Onyango on the floor with a dummy and smashed home with a left-footed effort for a truly quality finish.

Onyango was looking fidgety at the back and nearly gifted Uganda a second when he fumbled a pass which was gathered by the opposition and swung in for Kizito but he was unable to get a touch on it.

Taddeo Lwanga then made an unbelievable miss when he headed off target from only three yards out after Kizito’s well-measured cross had picked him out.

Stars were feeling the heat and Collins Agade’s debut was cut short when he was subbed off after only 40 minutes with Kimanzi electing to bring Whyvonne Isuza in his place as he sought more incision in the final third.

It almost proved a masterstroke as Isuza threaded a delicate through ball into the path of Michael Olunga but Paul Willa did a good job to block his run and goalkeeper Charles Lukwago came off his lines to collect it.

Uganda held their advantage into the break but it was wiped out moments after the restart with Muguna ghosting into the box and stretching to guide Timbe’s cross into the back of Lukwago’s net.

Momentum tilted in Kenya’s favour after that equalizer and Olunga should have made it 2-1 for Kenya but Lukwago palmed his volleyed effort away and a rebound hacked away.

Substitute Boniface Muchiri almost his debut a memorable one when he beat John Revita in the right wing, shifted the ball onto his left foot before attempting a placed shot into the far post but Lukwago tipped it away.

He was on the end of another dangerous attacking move, jumping high to head Timbe’s cross and Revita did well to block him from getting a clean contact on the ball as Kenya upped the tempo.

Olunga had endured a silent afternoon but he nearly had the final say when his shot from the edge of the box came off the foot of the post as a game that set off to an exciting start ended in similar fashion.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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