NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – Harambee Stars are through to the second round of 2015 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers after Racing Genk midfielder Ayub Timbe scored his first goal for Kenya and coach Adel Amrouche was sent off in a dramatic return leg against Comoros that ended 1-1 in Moroni on Friday.
The Belgium-based winger who was playing for the Kenya for the second time converted a free-kick from outside the box in the 57th minute at Mitsamiouli International Stadium before Ben El Fardou levelled in the 72nd after following defensive lapse.
With a quarter of an hour to go, Amrouche was given his marching orders but the team held on to qualify 2-1 on aggregate after taking a 1-0 lead into the match from the first leg almost a fortnight ago from Nairobi.
Stars now await for Sunday’s clash between Lesotho and Liberia in Maseru to know the identity of their second round opponents with the latter 1-0 to the good from the first leg in Monrovia.
The fiery Belgian national was sent for confronting fourth official, Andre Rakomamonjy from Madagascar.
It took the intervention of Inter Milan midfielder Macdonald Mariga and Football Kenya Federation Technical Director Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee to calm down Amrouche who was banished to the stands for the second time in his Stars career following his red card away to Nigeria in Calabar last June.
Should Stars progress, they will join Group C of the final qualifiers that features 2013 Afcon finalists Burkina Faso, Angola and Gabon awaits.The second round first leg will be played on the weekend of July 18 with the return leg set for a fortnight later.
Amrouche made three changes from the squad that won the first leg, starting with Norway based custodian Arnold Origi in goal instead of Bandari’s Wilson Obungu, KF Tirana’s Francis Kahata in midfield for Jamal Mohammed and MC Alger forward Edwin Lavatsa upfront in place of the axed record goal scorer, Dennis Oliech.
Playing in front of their fans, the Islanders started the match in attack in search of the equalising goal that saw the visitors survive early scares with Origi rescuing Soule Mohammed’s shot from the left after beating Aboud Omar.
Comoros continued to pile pressure forcing Origi to pull another save, denying Mohammed Yousouf as they shared the spoils at the breather.
Kenya resumed with an attacking mind and could have broken the deadlock in the 48th after Kahata set Lavatsa a low pass that left him with keeper to beat but the former Gor Mahia forward’s effort hit the side net.
Four minutes later, Fouad Bachirou broke through on the counter but Origi easily picked his feeble shot before USA based defender Lawrence Olum cleared El Fardou’s attempt.
The home side were punished in the 57th from a well taken free-kick by Timbe outside the 18 yard box curled beyond keeper Mahamoud Mroivili to open the scoring.
At the hour mark Origi’s time wasting tactics earned the Islanders an indirect free kick but the latter could not utilize the opportunity as the Lillestrom shot-stopper punched the ball to save Kenya the blushes.
Comoros withdrew Captain Nadjim Abdou for Mohammed Mchangama in the 63rd, two minutes later Amrouche introduced Mariga for defender David Ochieng but it did not take long before Comoros leveled ithrough El Fardou after Stars defence went walkabout.