MACHAKOS, Kenya, Dec 5- A visibly jaded Harambee Stars dropped points in their second CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup match after being held to a goalless draw by invitational side Libya at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Tuesday.
Despite the draw, Kenya still maintained their lead in Group A with four points after two matches with Zanzibar second with three, though the island nation who Kenya faces next have played a match less.
Stars head coach Paul Put made only one change from his team that won 2-0 against Rwanda on the opening day, bringing in Mathare United top scorer Chris Oduor in place of Sammy Onyango who missed the match entirely.
Compared to Rwanda on Sunday, Libya posed a bigger threat to the host nation and they were not afraid to attack, knowing they needed maximum points on their second match to boost their chances of playing in next week’s semi-final.
They almost grabbed the opener in the ninth minute when Tubal Moahmed broke away on the right after evading Musa Mohammed’s tackle, gliding into the box to face Patrick Matasi one on one.
However, the Kenyan shot stopper played the role of keeper-sweeper, swiftly coming off his line to slide in and sweep the ball away for a throw-in.
Stars had a similar chance two minutes later when Oduor sent George Odhiambo through on goal from the left, but the Gor Mahia winger could not hit the net, Libya keeper Azzaqah Ahmed managing to keep the ball away with his feet.
Two minutes on the turn, Odhiambo sought to make amends for missing what looked like an easy chance, collecting the ball from 25 yards out, finding shooting space and having a go at goal, but the effort went inches wide.
Libya were not afraid to attack and their prowess on set pieces was especially worrying for the Kenyans. In the 15th minute, Almaryami Khalid sneaked in at the near post to glance in a header from Albadri Faisal’s corner, but the ball went over.
The host side lacked the punch and pace on the wings they had against Rwanda in Kakamega, probably due to the absence of Onyango who was gassing up either wing over the weekend. Oduor and Whyvonne Isuza who were interchanging on the right failed to punch in the needed pace.
Three minutes to the break, a combination of Khalid and keeper Ahmed at the near post kept off Odhiambo from hitting the opener after the ball fellfell kindly on his feet on the right, headed back in by Oduor from a Wesley Onguso corner.
At the start of the second half, Masoud who seemed to have picked up ankle injury in the first half was hauled off for Kepha Aswani. The Kariobangi Sharks forward was rushed to hospital immediately.
Stars kept their feet upfront in search of an opening and five minutes after the restart, Jockins Atudo saw his freekick saved by the keeper with the rebound cleared by the defense.
Put made his second change, bringing on Ovella Ochieng for Chris Oduor after 65 minutes, looking to punch up the pace on the wings.
But it was Libya who almost grabbed the headline with Moahmed’s volley from the right after Faisal’s freekick was nodded down going wide from the right.
Stars had two chances in quick succession go begging, first Isuza’s curling shot from inside the area after picking up Ochieng’s cut back going against the bar while Odhiambo’s returning header was tipped over the bar by the keeper.
Five minutes to go, Duncan Otieno found some shooting space from range and he took one of his favorites, the ball rising over the bar by inches.
On the other end, Atudo was forced to clear the ball off his line after substitute Saeid Saleh managed to tap the ball away from keeper Patrick Matasi.