Kenya’a Harambee stars managed a creditable result when they held Congo-Brazza, popularly known as Diables Rouges (Red Devils) 1-1 away from home. Kenya had taken the lead with a well taken goal by Paul Were following an assist by Michael Olunga. Were who had an excellent first half was later stretchered off the field following a collision with a Congo player.
The congolese equalized via a penalty after Jackson Saleh handled the ball.Prince Oniangue equalised for the home team in the 34th minute after converting the penalty.
From that point on, the Congolese launched far more attacks than Kenya. But Kenya gave a good account of themselves especially on the defensive end where David Ochieng “Cheche” was a standout. On one occasion, keeper Boniface Oluoch who had an unstable game was caught well out of position outside the penalty box. The Congolese striker lobbed the ball above him. Luckily for Kenya, Cheche had retreated to the goal and saved the day.
Kenya contented themselves with sitting back and counter attacking but chances were few and far between. Once chance fell to Michael Olunga in the 12th minushould have made it two but saw his curled shot go an inch wide. Eight minutes later it was Allan Wanga who picked up Paul Were’s pass but sent his effort over the bar.
Were had a lively first half making numerous forays into the Congo half and giving the Congolese plenty to think about. However a collision with a Congolese player that caused him to be stretchered off the field put him out of sorts.
In the second half Stars seemed contented to sit back and wait for counter-attack chances. One bright spot was Ayub Timbe whose runs down the flanks gave Kenya a few moments of spark. The Congolese did not look very convincing despite playing at home to a large partisan crowd. This is a team Kenya can beat in the return leg.
Coach Bobby Williamson is once again proving that he is an astute coach who if given support including friendlies, good planning and sufficient preparation, can take the national team places.
Starting XI: Boniface Oluoch (GK), David Owino, David Ochieng’, Jackson Saleh, Aboud Omar, Collins Okoth, Victor Wanyama, Paul Were (Kevin Kimani 78’), Noah Wafula (Ayub Timbe 70’), Michael Olunga, Allan Wanga (Anthony Akumu 89’).
Unused Subs: Ian Otieno (GK), Edwin Wafula, Stephen Wakhanya, Jesse Were, Francis Kahata, Humphrey Mieno
Starting XI: Christopher Mafoumbi (GK), Boris Ngounga, Carof Bakouna (Molse Nkounkou 68’), Davy Dimitri, Mervel Valthy, Dore Ferebory, Fabrice Ondama (Dominique Malanga 63’), Cesair Gandze, Sagesse Babele, Gregor Mbaka.
Unused Subs: Pascal Konongo, Joshua Minimbou, Jordan Massengo, Dufounou Tchibola, Chansel Mahikola