NAIROBI, October 12 – Harambee Stars slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Guinea’s Syli Nationale in their final group two 2010 World Cup qualifier in Conakry on Sunday.
Needing a win to progress to the final round of the qualifiers, Guinea raced to a 3-0 lead but a quick fire brace by Auxerre striker Dennis Oliech in a dramatic last ten minutes ensured a grandstand finish with Stars just running out of time complete what would have been a heroic a comeback.
Already qulaified to the next round of qualifiers, Stars were hit by a blow before they even started the match with skipper Robert mambo was ruled out due to a stomach bug.
Kimanzi thus had to rejig his starting eleven bringing on Tusker midfielder Osborne Monday to the middle of the pack while Jamal Mohammed kept his place. Upfront Dennis Oliech made a return with the added responsibility of captaining the side.
Despite this setback, Stars started the brighter with Parma’s Macdonald Mariga flashing a freekick wide on four minutes.
The early half chances fell to Siad Most striker Patrick Oboya who blazed over from a corner on 17 minutes and five minutes later shot wildly over the bar from an Oliech knockdown.
Stars should have taken the lead just before the half hour mark when Oboya shot just over the bar after an intelligent Mariga corner and a minute later Mariga shot straight at the goalkeeper from six yards after an Oliech cutback.
Mariga then rattled the upright with a rasping shot from 35 yards as another Stars’ chance went begging.
Another Mariga daisycutter flashed just wide and Stars were made to pay for their profligacy on 35 minutes when Ishmael Bangoura converted a Pascal Feidouno cross after a sloppy piece of defending by Oboya.
The goal roused the Guineans and Munandi Mulinge had to be alert to put off Bangoura before Fode Mansare then shot wide from just outside the box.
The hosts almost made it 2-0 straight from the restart with Noah Ayuko pulling off a fantastic save to foil Alhassane Quattara on 49 minutes.
The victors had their tails up and Mansare left Mulinge for dead down the left but Bangoura shot straight at Ayuko who gratefully held on from no more than eight yards.
Mamadou Ba got Guinea’s second on the hour heading in a Feindouno corner as the Stars defence went to sleep.
Kimanzi reacted immediately bringing on Allan Wanga for the ineffectual Mohammed but Guinea were rampant and Bangoura got his goal heading home another precise corner.
Game over, or so it seemed.
The Stars bench threw on Francis Ouma for Oboya and switched to a 4-3-3 and the team finally sprung to life.
Wanga brilliantly held onto the ball before laying it off to Mariga whose near post cross was turned in by Oliech with ten minutes to go.
Kimanzi threw his final dice bringing on Kevin Ochieng for Austin Makacha and Stars poured forward with Oliech hitting the side netting with nine minutes to go.
With four minutes of added time played Oliech picked up the ball on the left edge of the Guinea penalty area, dribbled past two defenders before finding the bottom corner of the net from 12 yards for a breathtaking goal.
The result means that Kenya finished second in group two of the second round of qualifiers in second place with ten points while Guinea win the group with 11 points.