NAIROBI, Kenya, November 28- The national football team Harambee Stars opened their GOtv Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup campaign with a draw against the Walia Antelopes of Ethiopia on Wednesday at Nyayo National stadium.
Stars who were playing without head coach Adel Amrouche, who was taken ill on the eve of the game, started the match on a high, missing their opener in the third minute when Edwin Lavatsa’s cross in the box found no one to tap in.
The boys coached by assistant James Nandwa, continued to pile pressure towards the Walia goal with Alan Wanga’s header in the 16th minute going wide, three minutes later, captain Francis Kahata’s shot went wide.
“The match was tough, I was in Uganda last year with this team where we lost the first match, today we didn’t play according to our game plan because we lost the ball possession.
“But the boys have tried and I’m sure we will pick up in our next match, about the coach, he could not be able to join us on the touchline because he fell sick yesterday, but in our next match he will be available,” the assistant coach James Nandwa said after the match.
Kahata was fouled outside the box but center referee Denis Batte from Uganda waved on.
Ethiopia could have scored with four minutes to halftime through Yousuf Yassin but keeper Duncan Ochieng denied them, forcing both teams share the spoil into the breather.
Stars came into the second half fighting for goals but South African based David Gateri shot was not strong to beat keeper Derete Alemu.
Yassin continued to terrorize Kenya’s defense forcing Kahata to handle the ball in the box, but referee waved play on, four minutes later, he was at it again through a free kick but Ochieng was quick to respond.
Nandwa brought in Golden Boot winner Jacob Keli who strengthened the striking force but it did not bear any fruits as Ethiopia Keeper was always on top.
With only two minutes to full time, Mintesnote Adane could give Ethiopia the winning goal through a powerful header which went wide, forcing the tie to end in a barren draw.
Kenya next face South Sudan who lost their opener 2-1 to Zanzibar on Saturday at Nyayo National stadium.
Zanzibar are top of Group A with three points, followed by Kenya and Ethiopia who have one point each while South Sudan are placed last with no point.
In Thursday’s fixtures, Burundi will face Somalia before Tanzania takes on guest team Zambia at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.