PARIS, France, Jun 7 – Victor Wanyama’s 62nd minute penalty handed Kenya’s Harambee Stars a 1-0 win over Madagascar at the Stade Robert Bobin in Paris, France on Friday night in their first of two pre-African Cup of Nations (AFCON) build up matches.
The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder slotted in the game’s lone goal in a second half that saw Stars show a much improved performance, commanding play better and creating scoring opportunities courtesy of three half time changes.
Stars were lucky to be level at 0-0 at the break after Madagascar themselves had a penalty, but keeper Patrick Matasi came to the rescue with a powerful left arm to ensure the boys stood a chance despite a poor first half.
Off a swiftly executed counter, Madagascar were away and Metanire Romain sent Tsilavina Martin through into the box. Matasi came out to cover and in his outstretched arms brought down the lanky forward.
From the resultant penalty, the keeper made amends, leaping to is right and his strong left hand parried Charles Andriamahitsinoro’s penalty onto the crossbar and out.
Madagascar who camped in Kenya’s half for most of the opening 45 minutes created more chances and should have been up by at least two or more goals, were they more clinical in the final third.
They started knocking on the door early with Rayan providing the first danger with a curled ball that went just over when he cited Matasi a few yards off his line.
In the 22nd minute, Andriamahitsinoro came inches close when his shot from inside the box was deflected onto the crossbar after Kenya struggled to clear the ball from a cutback on the left.
Just before that effort, Kenya had survived another flow of attack, this time thanks to Musa Mohammed who made a great block after throwing his body on the floor to keep out a shot from Andriatsina Faneva.
On the half hour mark, Philemon Otieno almost turned the ball into his own net when he tried to block a cross from Romain with Matasi off his line but luckily for him the ball sailed inches wide.
Andriamahitsinoro had another big chance when his freekick was swayed by the wind, but Matasi punched the ball away.
Kenya’s best and probably only good chance of the game was off an Eric Johannah freekick that was fisted away by the keeper. Ayub Timbe was Kenya’s most colorful player, but most of his runs and dribbles couldn’t bring much of results.
At the start of the second half, Migne made changes, Musa, Johannah and John Avire coming off for Joseph Okumu, Eric Ouma and Michael Olunga.
The changes saw Kenya’s performance improve with Olunga proving a menace to the Madagascar backline. He showed his prowess within minutes, winning the ball from range but his shot went wide.
The improved performance with the introduction of pace on the wing and some assured legs in attack saw Kenya get rewarded with the game’s opening goal.
Timbe broke away on the left and his attempted cross was cut off by the arms of Norel Jeremy. Skipper Wanyama stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Stars were buoyed by the lead and hugely improved. Olunga came close when he picked up the ball at the edge of the box cutting off a Madagascar miss pass, but his curling effort went inches wide off target.
Madagascar had two late chances on the other end, but both went begging as Stars held on for the victory.