NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29- Victor Wanyama’s 39th minute penalty cancelled out Elias Maguli’s early goal as Harambee Stars were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Tanzania’s Taifa Stars in a friendly match played at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on Sunday.
Both sides were using the match as part of their preparations for the upcoming 2017African Cup of Nations qualifiers despite both having been knocked out.
Kenya plays Congo Brazzaville on June 5 while Tanzania will be at home to Egypt the previous day.
The draw saw head coach Stanley Okumbi wait long for his first win since being appointed after going three matches without a win.
Both sides missed some of the star names in their squad with Tanzania missing Belgium based Mbwana Samatta, TP Mazembe’s Thomas Ulimwengu and South African based Mrisho Ngassa.
Kenya missed the services of defender Brian Mandela, paving a return of Eugene Asike to the starting line-up.
Belgium based Johannah Omollo was out due to injury while Sweden based Michael Olunga was also unavailable.
The visitors were the better side in the early exchanges with Deus Kaseke driving the side from midfield, winning possession and spraying the balls wide for their speedy overlapping fullbacks.
Tanzania had their first effort in the fourth minute with skipper Mwinyi Kazimoto’s ferocious strike from the edge of the area being palmed away by Stars keeper Boniface Oluoch and Asike ensured the danger was dissolved chesting the ball back to his keeper.
The visitors were mostly using the right channel, making the most of a bad day in office for Bulgaria based left back Aboud Omar.
In the 12th minute, Kaseke sprayed a ball wide to Shiza Ramadhan with the midfielder shooting inches wide from a tight angle, the entire backline caught flat footed.
Stars were limited in their chances and Taifa Stars keeper Deogratius Munishi remained untested in the opening 20 minutes of the game.
Zesco United defender David Owino had Kenya’s opening clear chance in the 23rd minute rising at the far post to head an Omar corner but his effort went wide.
The hosts began getting more involved in the game with Wanyama and Anthony Akumu doing the work in midfield to try and open up the Tanzanian defence which had all afternoon seemed intact.
Stars though found themselves a goal down in the 33rd minute when Elias Maguli rose high at the edge of the six yard box to head in a cross from Juma Abdul.
The lead though lasted only six minutes as skipper Wanyama levelled matters from the penalty spot after Abdul hacked down Ayub Timbe inside the box after being turned inside out.
On-form Jesse Were should have taken the score up to two at the stroke of half time but he missed a sitter with Eric Johannah laying in a decent low cross from the right that needed the simplest of touches to direct it into the net.
The game resumed for the second period with as much pace with Stars knocking first on the door with Timbe having a shot fly inches over the bar after racing to pick up Omar’s cut-back from the left in the third minute.
Four minutes later, Oluoch was called into another full stretched save to deny Ramadhani who unleashed a ferocious low shot from the edge of the box after cutting in.
Okumbi threw in his first dice, bringing in AFC Leopards winger Clifton Miheso for Mieno, the change seeing Johannah shift into the number ten role from the wing, a position that was now occupied by the speedy Miheso.
Tanzania’s Charles Boniface Mkwassa responded on the hour mark, throwing in three at a go with keeper Munishi being replaced by Azam shot stopper Aisha Manula while Ramadhan and Jonas Mkude paved way for Farid Musa and Mohammed Ibrahim respectively.
Stars had a superb chance from the counter in the 70th minute when Wanyama released Timbe on the right and though the ball was heavy, the Belgian based winger managed to keep it in, however, Miheso miscued a kick unmarked at the far post from the resultant cross.
With goals being of essence, Okumbi turned on to SportPesa Premier league top scorer Wycliffe Ochomo, summoning him to take up Jesse Were’s place.
Later, Ajax Cape Town’s Victor Ali Abondo came in for Akumu, with Wanyama now playing the defensive midfield role.
There was still time for another change for Okumbi’s men with Tanzania’s defense still unlocked and he looked onto Ulinzi Stars forward John Mark Makwatta who has 10 goals in the first leg bringing him in for Timbe.
Despite the increased pressure, Stars couldn’t find a way past the Tanzanian backline.
Ahead of the second friendly match against Sudan on Tuesday evening, Okumbi will need to work on the side’s finishing though he is expected to field a squad of majorly emerging talent.