NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – Belgian based Johanna Omolo netted a first half lone goal to see Harambee Stars begin their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations journey with a win when they narrowly beat Comoros 1-0 in the first leg preliminary round at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.
The Lomel United midfielder unleashed a thunderbolt in the 34th minute to open the scoring after host dominated better part of the match.
“The boys tried and as I said before there is no small team in Africa. I watched Comoros playing against Burkina Faso and I told my players to watch out. I knew they were good on set pieces and that’s why I preferred to strengthen my midfield.
“I’m happy with the win because some of my players like Lawrence Olum and Jamal Mohammed arrived yesterday and they had little time to train with the team. We hope to score more goals in the return leg for us to progress to the next round,” Harambee Stars head coach Adel Amrouche stated after the match.
Amrouche started with a strong squad that featured six foreign based players as USA based defender Olum earning his debut.
Both teams preferred to hold back and study the game with host threatening first in the 26th through captain and English Premier League side Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama, but his long range shot went wide.
Soule Mohammed could have given the visitors the lead in the three minutes later when he beat defenders but he hurriedly took the shot that went wide.
Mohammed combined well with Dennis Oliech but the latter failed to beat keeper Mroivill Mahmoud.
Five minutes later Omolo brought the stadium into frenzy when he unleashed a long range cracker that beat Mahnoud to break the deadlock.
Wanyama could have doubled four minutes later from Ayub Timbe’s free-kick only for his header to go over the bar.
On the stroke of half-time Omolo thought he had notched a brace when he headed home Mohammed free-kick but referee Wellington Kauma from Zambia denied him as he waved for offside as Kenya went to the breather 1-0 up.
The visitors resumed a better side with Ben El Fardon bringing in a free-kick that forced keeper Wilson Obungu to spill in the box for defenders to clear the danger.
In the 57th Oliech missed a clear chance from a close range when he failed to slot home Wanyama’s deflected shot.
Amrouche did all substitutions bringing in Clifton Miheso, MacDonald Mariga and James Situma for Mohammed, Olum and Allan Wanga.
The Islanders had their last chance in the 77th when substitute Hamadi Combo broke in the counter attack but his effort was stopped by Obungu as the host managed to hold on to win the match.
Kenya will now head to Comoros in a fortnight for the return leg with a 1-0 advantage.