Ali Abondo had not featured in the Harambee Stars starting line up since the CHAN qualifier against Ethiopia. His return was an unhappy one as Stars were beaten 3-1 by Zanzibar. He was the only Gor Mahia player fielded in the starting line-up. Coach Bobby Williamson appeared to under-rate the Zanzibaris and fielded a decidedly different squad than the one that played in the opening two games.
Just as was the case against Cape Verde, a good start by Harambee Stars was ruined because players were demoralized. This time it was due to unpaid allowances that saw the players threaten not to play.
Additional reporting courtesy of the Nation
Suleiman Kassim bagged a brace for the Heroes striking in the 45th and 75th minutes of the game while Khamis Mcha Khamis was also on target in the 57th minute to inflict Kenya with a painful defeat.
Substitute Jacob Keli pulled Kenya’s late consolation. “We are extremely disappointed. We never looked comfortable today,” Williamson said. More embarrassing for the Stars is the fact that the Zanzibar Heroes had been the whipping boys of the group losing 1-0 to Burundi and 4-0 to Uganda Cranes.
Stars build-up to yesterday’s game was overshadowed by demands for allowances and subtle threats not to honour the match.
Anthony “Teddy” Akumu was deployed as the sole defensive midfielder in the new-look 4-1-3-2 formation that saw Jesse Were and Allan Wanga partner upfront while Kevin Kimani and Kevin Amwayi operated on the wings allowing Ali Abondo to play centrally behind the strikers.
However, Kenya’s tactics failed to work and Williamson summoned Michael Olunga and Eric Johanna respectively fo Were and Amwayi in the second half but there was no way out. It was left to late sub Keli to net the consolation goal.