New coach Francis Kimanzi’s unimpressive stint as Harambee stars coach continued on Sunday when Harambee stars went down 1-0 to Mozambique in an international friendly.
Additional reporting from the Standard
Canhembe Amancio came off the bench to score the winner as the Mambas of Mozambique stunned wasteful Harambee Stars 1-0 in Sunday’s friendly match at a rain-soaked Kasarani Stadium.
Though the appalling weather conditons had its say all evening affecting players’ ball control and the flow of the game, Stars will have themselves to blame after squandering a host of scoring chances.
Amancio capitalized on Joseph Okumu’s 71st minute defensive blunder to inflict the defeat on the hosts.
This was not the type of result Francis Kimanzi expected ahead of next month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers against Egypt and Togo.
“It was a difficult game, but I think we created many chances. We conceded from a young player’s mistake.You can’t go unpunished for such mistakes at this level,” said Kimanzi.
But for his Mozambican counter Luis Goncalves, the sloggy pitch affected their performance.
“The pitch was heavy and that somehow slowed down our performance. Kenya had a number of chances at the start and in the final minutes, but we kept our heads together,”
Stars started off the brighter creating a couple half chances as they restricted their visitors in their half in the opening ten minutes.
Michael Olunga almost broke the deadlock in the 11th minute after pouncing on a loose ball at the edge of the box, but the Kashiwa Reysol talisman balloned his effort.
Olunga then forced a fine save from the Mambas goalkeeperJulio Pedro Frenque as Stars intensified their attack.
Moments later, Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder Victor Wanyama initiated a counter attack from a free kick, but indecision cost Olunga as he opted to set up Kenneth Muguna instead of shooting.
Muguna came close to scoring his second goal for the national team when he unleashed a powerful long range shot in the 28th minute, but he was superbly denied by the goalkeeper.
Ten minutes later, Cliff Nyakeya delivered a pin-pointed cross in the box only for Olunga to feebly shoot straight at an impressive Frenque.
But the tide changed in the last seven minutes of the first half as the Mambas took control of the game with their first attempt from Quembo Witiness going wide.
Eric Ouma then made a brilliant block to stop Witiness’ dangerous cross from the left flank before Ernesto Mercelino saw his surprise effort go inches over the bar.
Moments later, goalkeeper Farouk Shikalo come off his line to stop number Reginaldo Fait Artur from scoring before the Yanga custodian denied Luis Jose in the box.
Francis Kimanzi then brought in Kariobangi Sharks midfielder Duke Abuya for Clifton Miheso five minutes into the second half.
Kenya earned a free kick in a promising position, but Olunga shot directly into Frenque’s hands before the Ferroviário de Maputo custodian brilliantly saved Abuya’s glancing header.
The Kariobangi Sharks nearly set up Ouma for Kenya’s opening goal on the hour mark, but leftback Mussagi Sidique reacted fast to intercept the cross.
Muguna’s effort then missed target by a whisker before he was replaced by Zesco United forward Jesse Were, who was making a return to the team after being snubbed for the 2019 Africa Nations Cup by former Stars coach Sebastian Migne.
But substitute Canhembe Amancio depossessed Joseph Okumu, danced through the defence before slotting the ball past a hapless Shikalo. This came barely a minute after Stars survived another scare following Shikalo’s goalkeeping error.
Kenya responded immediately but Were’s effort went agonizingly wide before he missed a clear-cut chance from Wanyama’s delivery. Whyvonne Isuza thought he had snatched an 81st minute equaliser for the hosts only for his close range effort to be saved by the keeper before Okumu missed a sitter. [Rodgers Eshitemi]
Kenya v Mozambique line ups
Harambee Stars: Faruk Shikalo, (GK), Samuel Olwande, Eric Ouma, Joseph Okumu, Joash Onyango, Victor Wanyama, Lawrence Juma, Kenneth Muguna, Cliff Nyakeya, Cliffton Miheso, Michael Olunga
Subs: Ian Otieno, Timothy Odhiambo (GKs), Harun Shakava, Yusuf Mainge, Jesse Were, Teddy Akumu, Hillary Wandera, Whyvonne Isuza, Abdallah Hassan, Duke Abuya, Enosh Ochieng, Bernard Ochieng
Mozambique: Julio Pedro Frenque (GK), Pelembe Elias Gaspar, Mussagi Sidique, Muchanga Francisco, Junoor Zainadine, Edmilson Gabriel, Ernesto Mercelino, Kambala Manuel, Quembo Witiness, Miquissone Luis Jose, Reginaldo Fait Artur