NAIROBI, Kenya, July 20 – Harambee Stars chances of making it through to the 2015 African Cup of Nations Group qualifiers took a knock after they were humbled 1-0 by Lesotho in the second round of the first-leg qualifiers in Maseru on Sunday.
Midfielder Bushi Moletsane, netted the winning goal in the 70th minute as Kenya lost concentration in the second half.
The result means Stars need at least a 2-0 result at home to be assured of a slot in Group C of the final group qualifiers that features 2013 finalists Burkina Faso, Gabon and Angola for the proper qualifiers to the road to Morocco.
Stars who played without suspended head coach Adel Amrouche, started with Inter Milan midfielder Macdonald Mariga, Jamal Mohammed and Jacob Keli on the bench in favour of Peter Opiyo, South African based David Gateri and Allan Wanga.
The first-half belonged to the visitors as Opiyo combined well with Clifton Miheso, captain Victor Wanyama and Francis Kahata as the Finland based midfielder threatened on several occasions.
Opiyo had his first shot in the seventh minute rescued by Lesotho keeper as Wilson Obungu who replaced first choice custodian Arnold Origi punching the ball over the bar for a fruitless corner on the other end.
Sudan based Wanga could have broken the deadlock four minutes later, when Miheso and Kahata partnered well in the left for the Sofapaka winger to feed the forward who saw his shot punched for a fruitless corner.
In the 20th, Stars thought they had scored the opener after Wanga headed Aboud Omar’s free kick only for the ball to be cleared off the line.
As Kenya continued to boss the game, Kahata saw his shot blocked with Wanyama blasting the rebound wide minutes after Omar’s free-kick rattled the wood work as Lesotho survived the first half onslaught.
Tables turned after the break as Lesotho grew in confidence and pinned Stars back forcing assistant coach James Nandwa to pull out Wanga for Keli but the hosts finally got reward.
Moletsane slammed the ball past Obungu to give them the lead and despite the introduction of Mariga for Gateri and Mohammed for Kahata, the former going close with a well executed shot, Kenya failed to net the crucial equaliser as Keli spurned the last chance with five minutes to go when he fired straight at the keeper with the whole goal to aim at.
There was still time for David ‘Calabar’ Owino to clear off the line and prevent Stars from going further down.
The two teams will play the return leg in Nakuru in a fortnight.