Sports / Updates
Tuesday, 07 Jun 2016 08:59 EATlbramwel@kenyafreepress.com
It was a win for Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi and Kenya at large as he managed to molify his critics for the time being with a 2-1 win over Congo Brazzaville in a thrilling match played at the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani on Sunday.
The match saw a good number of fans turn up to support the home team as the players, dressed in red jerseys, took up the challenge in full force.
Okumbi, the former Mathare United manager whose appointment by FKF president Nick Mwendwa was received with widespread surprise, was seeking his first win since he took over from Bobby Williamson in February this year.
Okumbi had been getting a lot of criticism over the team’s continuous dismal performance.
Harambee Stars had experienced a home and away defeat by Guinea Bissau hence foiling their hopes of qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon.
Sunday’s match was purely to improve Kenya’s tapering FIFA rankings and not for qualifying for AFCON since they were at the bottom of group E.
The latest world rankings had placed Kenya at position 129 closely following Sudan who are at position 128. With the results, Kenya was expected to improve in the rankings. Congo, on the other hand, is placed at position 60.
Congo, having accumulated six points from their four matches, were seeking at least a draw to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the Cup of Nations.
In the run-up to the game against Congo, Kenya drew in two friendlies with Tanzania and Sudan. This might have contributed to their win over Congo and Okumbi was quoted as saying that they needed to have more of these for better results.
Congo’s Red Devils were the first to strike in the 19th minute after a controversial penalty awarded for a foul by Ismael Gonzalez on one of the Congolese players in the box. The penalty was taken by the sure-footed Prince Oniangou who did not disappoint.
However, the Congo side's joy was short-lived as in the 22nd minute, Ayub Timbe delivered a thunderous shot that flew past Congo’s goal keeper after receiving a calculated pass from the tough Victor Wanyama.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Wanyama was fouled at the edge of the box but Timbe failed to score as his kick went wide. The winning goal was courtesy of Eric Johanna in the 67th minute after an assist from Akumu who substituted Ismael Gonzalez. From then on to the end, Kenya dominated the match.
Kenya’s victory saw Guinea Bissau earning a ticket to AFCON at the helm of group E and having accumulated 10 points, four points ahead of Zambia and Guinea Bissau.
The writer is a student at University of Kabianga currently on internship at the Kenya Free Press.