Harambee stars continued their unlikely resurgence under coach Stan Okumbi and under the new FKF regime. On Saturday they beat the Mambas as Mozambique’s national team is called. In action were Gor Mahia players Boniface Oluoch and Eric Ouma “Marcelo”. Also in action were former Gor Mahia players Anthony Akumu, Michael Olunga and David Owino Calabar.
Additional reporting from Citizen Sports.
Harambee Stars made it seven matches unbeaten as they struck an early goal to edge Mozambique 1-0 in a friendly match played at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium on Saturday.
It was a close contest but the Stars always looked more dangerous, taking a deserved lead through midfielder Eric Johanna in the 17th minute.
One goal in 90 minutes was hardly the true reflection of the game, a classic end-to-end affair that burst to life as early as the first whistle went off.
The visitors rarely threatened in the first half and should have been two goals down in the opening ten minutes as Jesse Were and Johanna both spurned clear-cut chances to hand Kenya the advantage.
Sweden-based striker Michael Olunga created the first chance for the home side, beating a left back Zeinadine Junior to an aerial ball before squaring the ball to an on-rushing Were but the Zesco United forward spilled his shot wide.
Moments later, a neat cross from winger Clifton Miheso – who plays for South African Premier Division side Golden Arrows – fell to Were but the former’s first-time hit was punched back into play by Mozambique custodian Jose Guirrego.
The rebound fell to Johanna but Guirrego got up quick enough to thwart a tame effort from the Mathare United midfielder.
The hosts came knocking just three minutes later with Captain Victor Wanyama skying a fierce shot from outside the box after a couple of blocked shots as the Mambas continued to survive.
The Stars were not to be kept out in the 17th minute when Johanna slammed home the opener.
It was all Miheso’s work, as he broke free of his marker and curving in a beautifully weighted cross. It troubled the Guirrego and his defence and Johanna was in the right place at the right time to fire into the top corner.
The visitors’ first chance fell to Absou Manjate but the striker headed wide from a 22nd minute free-kick.
At the half hour mark, Olunga – completely marked out of the game – put in a shift of defensive work for the Stars, heading clear from Elias Pelembe’s free-kick as the hosts desperately tried to find an opening.
It was only his second meaningful contribution of the first half, with the opposition defence swarming him out of the ball every time his teammates picked him out.
The pairing between Miheso and Gor Mahia sensation Eric Ouma was proving efficient as the two wreaked havoc down the left wing, and were both involved in a slick one-two that got home fans of their seats in excitement.
Ouma initiated the move, passing to Miheso who quickly returned the favor. Ouma then rolled the ball onto the feet of Miheso before storming downfield, calling back for the ball.
Miheso – who plays for South Africa’s Premier Soccer League side Golden Arrows – traced his path with the ball but Ouma’s cross was overhit.
Defender Anthony Akumu attempted a shot from long range but it sailed above the crossbar.
Stars took their 1-0 advantage into the break and nearly made it two after only 15 minutes into the second half.
Johanna teed up Were with a nice pass but the former failed to find the target with his shot.
The home side looked a little subdued in the second half but the defence remained flawless with Posta Rangers skipper Jockins Atudo impassable at right back.
Greece-based winger Paul Were – introduced in the place of Miheso – brought more attacking force for Okumbi’s charges but a second goal was barely in sight.
Struggling to reproduce their first half rhythm, the Stars lived dangerously with only a one-goal cushion and were almost pegged back as Joas Mussica’s glancing header beat goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch but missed the target.
Olunga spurned the chance to put the tie to bed in the dying minutes of the match, heading over from Ouma’s clever cross.
It was the first of two friendly matches lined up for the Stars who are set to play Liberia on Tuesday at the same venue.