NAIROBI, Kenya, November 30- Harambee Stars got their CECAFA Senior Challenge campaign back on track with a 2-0 victory over Ethiopia at Dar-es-Salaam Stadium on Wednesday.
Debut first half goals from Bob Mugalia and Victor Ochieng helped Francis Kimanzi’s side to erase the disappointment of losing by a similar margin to Malawi in their opener on Monday in a match played under pelting rain.
Mugalia, the Congolese born naturalised Kenyan opened the scoring when he raced to a though ball to tuck the ball away in the 11th minute to cap a bright start for the Stars.
Kimanzi employed a more attacking formation with Ochieng coming to partner Mugalia up front as Mulinge Ndeto was drafted into the left to replace James Situma who was rustic against The Flames.
Humphrey Mieno was also brought into the midfield as Dennis Odhiambo dropped to the bench with keeper, Duncan Ochieng keeping his place in goal despite the blooper that handed Malawi their second goal via a penalty.
Ochieng, the Chemelil Sugar revelation who netted ten times for the sugar millers after his mid season move from relegated Mahakama FC was justifying his case for inclusion in the starting line-up and his run was brought to an illegal stop on the half hour mark.
Stars were awarded a penalty and up stepped Jamal Mohammed and perhaps conscious of the wet conditions, his attempt to fire into the roof of the net ended in the ball clearing the bar and into the stands.
The reprieve for the Ethiopians was short lived as in the 44th minute, Ochieng gobbled up an incomplete clearance from a Mohammed corner to score his sides’ second with captain Pascal Ochieng making sure by bundling it in for a 2-0 half time lead.
On resumption, Ethiopia brought on Dawit Fekadu for their lethal striker, Shemeles Bekele but it was Stars who fashioned the first chance when Mieno set up Sofapaka team mate Mugalia with a chested pass that the forward turned wide.
Mohammed saw his shot fizzle out past the post on the hour mark before Kimanzi replaced Kimani with KPL top scorer Stephen Waruru three minutes later.
Despite the faith bestowed on his gloves, Ochieng almost landed his team in trouble in the 75th minute but the Ethiopians could not capitalise on his fumble prompting the head coach to withdraw Ochieng and shore the backline by introducing defender Jockins Atudo.
Ethiopia cranked up the pressure with ten minutes left and further defensive cover was needed which saw Mohammed withdrawn for Odhiambo as Kimanzi sought his team to play out the match.
Mugalia came close to notching his double in added time but Kenya held on to record their first victory at this tournament since 2009 when they beat Somalia.
Kenya’s last match will be against Sudan the 2012 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers and depending on the outcome of their match against Malawi that followed soon after, a draw would be enough to seal qualification.
Duncan Ochieng, Mulinge Munandi, Brian Mandela, Pascal Ochieng, Yusuf Juma, Humphrey Ochieng, Titus Mulama, Jamal Mohammed, Kevin Kimani, Victor Ochieng, Bob Mugalia.
Subs: Jacktone Odhiambo, James Situma, Dennis Odhiambo, Jockins Atudo, Collins Okoth, Stephen Waruru, Paul Were, Stephen Ocholla, Eric Masika.