NAIROBI, October 7 – Harambee Stars head coach Bobby Williamson won his first competitive match after his charges thrashed hosts Mauritius 5-2 in their 2018 World Cup pre-qualifier in Port Louis on Wednesday.
Belgian based midfielder Johanna Omolo scored twice with winger Ayub Timbe, Harun Shakava and Michael Olunga also finding the back of the net to hand Kenya a crucial away victory ahead of Sunday’s second leg to be hosted at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium.
Stars made a slow start that saw goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch parry Jonathan Brue’s set-piece before he kept out Pithia’s header from the resultant cornerkick that was delivered by Bell.
Williamson charges found the rhythm in the 20th minute finding the opener with their first shot on target when Omolo tapped home Olunga’s cross who had done well to control Dennis Odhiambo’s long throw in.
Two minutes later, Timbe forced Mauritius keeper Jean Louis to push the ball onto the woodwork but he couldn’t stop the Lierse attacker who curled in a superb cornerkick that sneaked in at the far post to double the lead.
Stars however were lucky not to concede a penalty at the half hour mark, after Wanyama handed the ball in the box but Malawi referee Duncan Lengani waved play on.
Oluoch, nearly cost his side after he came off the line but failed to stop Andy Sophie’s shot before he feebly punched the resulting cross but Shakava bailed him out at the second attempt.
Stars resumed on a high and extended made it 3-0 after Olunga headed Timbe’s corner back across goal for his Gor Mahia teammate, Shakava who lashed the ball home.
The hosts threatened to pull one back after Cl’enclume raced from the right to bring in a fine cross that split the Stars defence but Perticot blazed over from close range.
Williamson withdrew centre back David Ochieng who had been booked for Musa Mohammed but the Gor skipper made the worst start possible to the game conceding a penalty in the 66th after hacking down Sophie.
Sophie stepped up to the challenge sending Oluoch the wrong way with a brilliant spotkick to claw one goal back.
Motivated by the goal, Mauritius took advantage of Stars laxity at the defence to get a second through skipper Jonathan Bru who smashed the ball past Oluoch after a goalmouth melee although replays showed he was offside.
The Scotsman introduced Ulinzi Stars midfielder, Kevin Amwayi who helped restore Stars’ two goal lead in the 78th when he crossed for Omolo to head home and complete his brace.
Olunga sealed the win after running onto an Omolo through pass before beating the keeper with a brilliant finish two minutes from time.
The result saw Stars pick their first victory for the first time since May 2014 when they narrowly beat minnows Comoros 1-0 and put one foot to the next round where Cape Verde awaits.
The aggregate winner between Cape Verde will then enter into a draw of the Group qualifiers of the Road to Russia.