NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 8 – Kenneth Muguna scored his first international goal as Harambee Stars came from behind to draw 1-1 with Uganda Cranes in an international friendly match at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on Sunday evening.
Emmanuel Okwi had given the visitors a first half lead, but an improved performance by the Kenyan boys in the second half saw Stars salvage a draw.
In his first game in charge, Harambee Stars boss Francis Kimanzi handed first team debuts to three players.
Bandari’s Collins Agade and Gor Mahia’s Lawrence Juma paired up in midfield while former Mathare United defender Samwel Olwande, now with Kariobangi Sharks started on the right side of defense.
Uganda was clearly the better side in the opening half, Khalid Aucho, formerly with Tusker FC and Gor Mahia putting up a shift in midfield to supply the forward line that had the prowess of Allan Okello and Okwi.
Okwi had an early chance in the 15th minute off a quickly started throw in but his shot was turned behind for a corner by Matasi.
The visitors came close two minutes later when some neat passing inside the box saw Allan Kyambade break in but his fierce shot came off the upright and ricocheted off Michael Kibwage to luckily spiral over for a corner.
The early Uganda pressure bore fruit after 22 minutes when Okwi beat Matasi one on one, thanks to some industrious play from youngster Okello.
The Kampala City Council Authority forward lifted the ball over Kibwage on the right before hitting a no look pass that landed brilliantly into Okwi’s waiting feet.
Stars found themselves trailing without even threatening the Uganda Cranes goalkeeper Charles Lukwago.
Ayub Timbe was Kenya’s most industrious player, but his runs and dribbles seldom created any danger. He however created Kenya’s first shot on target in the 33rd minute when he made a run off the right drifting to the edge of the box.
He set Eric Johannah up with a good pass and acres of space on the left, but his shot was saved by Lukwago. Timbe came close in the 38th minute with a rasping shot from the edge of the box which flew just wide.
-Agade hauled off
Five minutes to the break, Kimanzi made changes, seeking to add some presence in midfield. Off came debutant Agade and his place taken up by Whyvonne Isuza. The change meant that Juma drew back to defensive midfield with Isuza taking up the attacking midfield role.
Stars started the second half with changes, Johnstone Omurwa coming on for Kibwage in defense, a measure taken by Kimanzi to seal off the backline.
It was the Cranes who almost doubled their tally just two minutes in when Mustafa Kizza’s freekick bounced awkwardly infront of Patrick Matasi and came off the bar.
Hearing the sound of the danger siren, Stars sought to get themselves on track and they equalized just four minutes later when Muguna had the simplest of tasks tapping into the net a low cross from Timbe.
While the China based winger just slapped a low ball into the area, credit of the work has to go to Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma who took on a daunting run on the left, skipping past three markers before nudging the ball forward for Timbe to cross.
-Grow in confidence
Stars grew in confidence after the equalizer and played better.
Olunga had a great chance in the 57th minute but his volley was saved by the keeper and the rebound cleared off the line by John Revita.
Six minutes later, the Ugandan keeper made a massive save, throwing himself on the ball at point blank to deny Isuza who had seemingly taped home a cross from Johannah.
Kimanzi made more changes, Olwande coming off for another debutant in Bandari’s Nicholas Mejja as Stars sought the winner. Boniface Muchiri was also hauled in for his senior team debut for Johannah.
Muchiri came close to capping off his day with a goal, but his header off an Ayub Timbe cross rose over the bar.
Stars came ever so close when skipper Olunga’s curling effort came against the upright while Timbe’s effort on the follow up hit the side netting.
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