MACHAKOS, Kenya, Mar 23 – Substitute Moses Waiswa on his first ever match for the Uganda Cranes scored with five minutes left on the clock as Uganda Cranes came from a goal down to force a 1-1 draw with Harambee Stars in an international friendly match played at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Thursday.
Michael Olunga had scored for the hosts in the first half, but Waiswa’s well taken goal late on meant spoils were shared. However, head coach Stanley Okumbi still goes for the ninth consecutive match without a loss.
Stars were hugely the better side in the match and should have only themselves to blame for failing to pick the victory, having the most of the scoring opportunities but could only manage to convert one of them.
Okumbi had started in a balanced team of both local and foreign based players, handing first team debuts to Posta Rangers shot-stopper Patrick Matasi, AFC Leopards defender Robinson Kamura and Ulinzi Stars forward Sammy Onyango.
Most of the first team starters led by skipper Victor Wanyama, defenders David ‘Calabar’ Owino and David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng all watched the match from the terraces as Okumbi made the decision to field most of the players who normally get limited chances to prove their worth.
His opposite number Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic had put in a squad of mostly local based players, handing a first team debut to Tusker FC left-back Shafik Batambuze while Gor Mahia’s Godfrey Walusimbi, Simba’s Murshid Juuko and skipper Hassan Wasswa were the only foreign based players.
Before scoring his goal in the 35th minute, Olunga was the culprit of two open missed chances. In the second minute, Onyango who had an impressive first half laid the ball up for him on his favorite left foot but the shot was well collected by Benjamin Ochan in the Uganda goal.
In the ninth minute, a freekick quickly started by Teddy Akumu released Olunga inside the box, but his shot from a good goal scoring opportunity went high up in the sky. A minute later, he was put through by Noah Wafula, but he couldn’t beat Ochan one-on-one.
Uganda created their first open chance in the 12th minute when Emmanuel Okwi’s tricky free kick from the left evaded everyone in the box and bounced just inches off target.
Four minutes later, Geoffrey Sserunkuma saw his shot parried away by Matasi in the Kenyan goal after Muzamiru Mutyaba planted the ball right behind the Kenyan defense to put Sserunkuma through.
Mutyaba had a surprise swirling shot on the half hour mark which almost caught Matasi off guard but the effort dipped slightly over the bar.
Five minutes later, Olunga was away on the other end celebrating after Matasi’s long ball on the counter attack found the Chinese based striker one-on-one with Habib Kavuma, stretching him to his right before shooting low past Ochan.
He should have made it 2-0 few seconds to half time, but he blasted the ball over after a defensive mistake from Uganda. Onyango though was waiting on the left in a better goal scoring opportunity but he chose to take the shot himself.
At the start of the second half, Okumbi was forced to withdraw Musa Mohammed after the Gor Mahia skipper picked an injury and he brought in Posta Rangers’ Simon Mbugua.
Stars had started the second period with as much pace as they did play in the first and should have gone 2-0 up in the 58th minute but Wafula shot wide after being put through by a Michael Olunga cut back. That proved to be the Tusker man’s last piece of action as he was withdrawn for John Mark Makwatta.
Okumbi also withdrew goal scorer Olunga for Paul Were.
On the other end, Godfrey Walusimbi came off for Krizestom Ntambi.
In the 66th minute, Kamura had close opportunity from a freekick on the right but it came off the crossbar and Jesse Were blasted the rebound over.
With the clock ticking, Uganda pulled in the equzlizer in the 85th minute from a tight angle on the right after beating Aboud Omar and chipping out Matasi in the Kenyan goal.