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Kenya held by lowly Comoros in Marrakech

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Harambee Stars players hurdle for a prayer after a training session in Marrakech. PHOTO/FKF

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24- Substitute Clifton Miheso scored a late equalizer as Harambee Stars were held to a 2-2 draw by Comoros in a friendly match in Marakech, Morocco on Saturday evening.

Under stand-in coach Stanley Okumbi, Stars had gone ahead via a third minute penalty from captain Victor Wanyama, but Comoros, ranked 132nd in the World roared back to equalize through Youssof M’Mchangama.

Bakar Djmel’s effort with 20 minutes left saw the islanders take a 2-1 lead, but Kenya left it late before Miheso beat the Comoros keeper one on one with nine minutes left on the clock.

Okumbi made several alterations to his starting team, the returning Ismail Gonzalez starting out on the right side of defense while David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng partnered David Owino at the heart of defense.

Captain Victor Wanyama started in midfield alongside Johannah Omollo with Francis Kahata, Jesse Were and Michael Olunga leading the front three in attack.

Kenya had a brilliant start to the game when they won a penalty inside the first five minutes, skipper Wanyama stepping up to send Comoros keeper Ahamada early the wrong way for the opening goal of the tie.

Olunga should have doubled Kenya’s tally barely a minute later when he did well to find shooting space but his shot came off the crossbar.

However, Comoros responded almost immediately when M’Changama pulled a decent effort from distance catching Kenya keeper Patrick Matasi off his guard.

The goal seemingly lifted Comoros’ spirits as they kept possession more, but Kenya nearly caught them on the counter but Francis Kahata could not maximize on a lucky rebound off the Comoros keeper after he failed to hold on to Eric Johannah’s shot.

With the scores tied at par as at half time, the second stanza was always set to be interesting.

Okumbi threw in his first card, pulling out Kahata for Paul Were, a like for like change that would inject some fresh pace into the game.

In the 67th minute, Okumbi made another change, bringing in the returning MacDonald Mariga and Miheso for Omollo and Jesse Were.

However, it was Comoros who looked to be hungrier as they went ahead just four minutes later, Djemel unleashing a ferocious shot that Matasi could only watch as it hit the net.

It was a text-book goal from the islanders with Djemel having come to the end of a team move that involved all the 11 players, including the goalkeeper touching the ball before it was rifled into the net from inside the box.

Despite going down, the Kenyans gave a spirited fight and Olunga had a header collected by the keeper at the back-post after rising unmarked to meet up a Miheso freekick.

Paul Were also had an effort on his favorite left foot from the edge of the box but it was blocked by a forest of legs.

Stars finally equalized with nine minutes left when Miheso kept his calm after racing onto a long ball to beat the Comoros keeper easily one on one. Almost immediately, Olunga came close with a stinging left footer that went inches over.

Stars will now shift their attention to their second friendly match in Marrakech where they will face the Central African Republic on Tuesday.

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