NAIROBI, Kenya, March 8 – The national Under-23 football team was put out of its All Africa Games qualifiers misery after succumbing to a 4-1 aggregate defeat to Egypt following a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their tie played in Machakos on Sunday.
Kenya who needed four goals to progress to the next round failed to overturn a 3-0 deficit they suffered in the first leg in the return fixture played in nearly an empty stadium.
Both goals were scored from the spot in the first half with the visitors breaking the deadlock at the quarter hour mark through Mahmoud Abdelmonem before Vincent Omumbo levelled seven minutes later by squeezing his penalty past the despairing dive of the Egyptian keeper who guessed correctly to his right.
Despite making changes from the squad that was thrashed in Cairo, Harambee Stars head coach Bobby Williamson was put to under pressure when his charges conceded an early goal after defender Omumbo hacked down Abdelmonem in the box to see the lethal striker step up and convert the penalty.
Omumbo then made it up for the hosts when he restored parity from the spot after Michael Olunga was brought down by Egypt keeper Mossad Awad and the Thika United centre back fired low and hard to beat the custodian.
The visitors could have reclaimed the lead on the 40th minute only for Mahmoud Hamad’s long range thunderous shot to rattle the woodwork as both sides shared the spoils at the break.
Kenya resumed on a high with Williamson introducing forwards David Kinga’tua, John Ndirangu and Timonah Wanyonyi for Victor Ndinya, Timothy Otieno and Enoch Agwanda as the Scotsman searched for more goals.
The changes were effective but unfortunately neither of them found the back of the net despite the piling pressure.
Awad was forced to make two crucial saves in the dying minutes after the keeper rescued Ndirangu’s powerful header from David Gateri’s well curved corner before he parried Olunga’s shot away from goal.
The visitors who were certain of advancing to the next round after scoring the away goal held on to bundle Kenya out of the Pan African Games that will be hosted in Congo Brazaville in September.
The team will now turn attention to next month’s Africa Championships qualifiers against Botswana in the two legged fixture.