NAIROBI, Kenya, March 23- AC Milan rookie Nnamdi Oduamadi’s 94th minute equaliser robbed Harambee Stars a historic victory in Calabar as Kenya held African champions to a 1-1 draw in their 2014 World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
The dramatic contest that saw Kenya’s head coach Adel Amrouche sent off in the dying minutes was only 60 seconds short of being Kenya’s finest hour but Stars will leave Nigeria with their heads high after stretching the much fancied Super Eagles to the full distance against all expectations.
With a Tweeter war between the two nations curtain-raising the contest, Thika United midfielder, Francis Kahata etched his name to the country’s football folklore when against the run of play, he swung in a devastating free-kick past Nigeria captain, Vincent Enyama in the 36th minute of the first half to lay the platform of a huge upset.
Kahata came close to notching his double with 12 minutes to go when he received an inch perfect through pass from his captain and France Ligue 1 AJ Ajjacio striker, Dennis Oliech that would have certainly buried the patchy African titleholders who paraded their trophy at the stadium to underline their status.
As expected, the match began with the hosts laying siege on Stars defense, with Chelsea striker, Victor Moses, causing all sorts of trouble and he came close to open the scoring just past the 20th minute mark when he burst through the box but Norway based keeper, Arnold Origi repelled his effort.
Moses floated in the resultant corner and it took Jamal Mohammed, the recalled Oman based midfielder to clear the ball off the line with Origi beaten from a header. Nigeria had a 25th minute goal chalked off for offside before the game turned on its head.
Anderson Eshiejile brought down Oliech and from the resultant free-kick, Kahata punished the Super Eagles much to the consternation of the crowd and Nigeria coach, Stephen Keshi, who seethed on the touchline.
The half ended in anti-climax when Origi saw an indirect free-kick deep inside the box awarded against him when he was adjudged to have violated the six second ball handling rule. Chelsea midfield ace, John Obi Mikel set up Eshiejile who fired wide as Stars survived.
At the beginning of the second half, Moses and strike partner, Obafemi Martins caused havoc in Star’s rearguard and almost forced an own goal leading to Amrouche to withdraw Jamal Mohammed for Peter Opiyo in an attempt to shore up the midfield.
Kenya survived several heart in the mouth moments as the match progressed with Brown Ideye bringing the best out of Origi after Kahata failed to capitalise on a rare foray into the Nigerian penalty area.
As the game entered the last five minutes, Amrouche was sent-off for remonstrating with officials and Origi booked for time wasting in time added on before the African champions finally salvaged their pride.
A long throw from the left fell to Oduamadi unmarked in the box and he duly thumped it high into the net to deny Kenya history.
Malawi beat Namibia 1-0 in Windhoek to join Nigeria on top of Group F with five points as Kenya continued to trail the pool on two.
Congo Brazzaville 1 (Samba 67) Gabon 0
Nigeria 1 (Oduamadi 90+3) Kenya 1 (Kahata 36)
Namibia 0 Malawi 1 (Mhango 70)
Cameroon 2 (Eto’o 42-pen, 82) Togo 1 (Wome 45+2)