NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 18 – Francis Kimanzi’s wait for a maiden win since rejoining the team continued as the Harambee Stars were held to a 1-1 draw by Togo in a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Kasarani Stadium on Monday night.
Johanna Omolo’s first half screamer gave Stars the lead, but the Sparrow Hawks of Togo drew back level in the second half through Hakim Ouro-Sama powerful header.
The draw sees Stars sit third on the standings with two points, same as Egypt but sit lower on alphabetic order basis.
Comoros, who held the Pharaohs to a 0-0 draw in Moroni earlier on in the day sit top of the standings with four points while Togo are bottom with just a point off Monday’s draw.
With Patrick Matasi back to fitness after coming off injured in last Friday’s game away to Egypt, Kimanzi chose to stick with Ian Otieno in between the sticks while Cliff Nyakeya also continued to deputize in the absence of Ayub Timbe who had not recovered.
Stars were determined to win the match at home especially with the results in Comoros, as three points would have assured them a slot on top of the standings ahead of the next round of matches in August next year.
Despite going to the breather leading 1-0, Togo bossed Kenya in the midfield with Wanyama dipping in form to hand the Togolese advantage of creating chances.
Belgium based creative midfielder, Omolo broke the deadlock with a 38th minute left-footed thunderbolt from the edge of the area after the ball was spread to his path by Nyakeya to send the sizeable crowd at the Kasarani Stadium into frenzy.
The goal came at an opportune time when the Togolese had slowly gotten into the game and were threatening the Kenyan backline with several runs on the wing.
Kenya had started the match well for about 10 minutes threatening the visitors’ goal, but quickly fizzled out. Togo had two half chances, first David Boris Henen’s header at the backpost from Mathieu Dosseyi’s cross going just wide.
Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba also had a chance with a shot from range but it was blocked by Joash Onyango after Togo turned the ball into offense when Stars lost the ball in midfield.
The Togolese almost struck back two minutes after they had gone behind, but Ian Otieno pulled a great save to deny Fo-Doh Laba who had tapped the ball goal-ward from a Henen cross off the left side.
On the other end, Eric Johana had a chance with a low shot from range that went straight to the keeper’s arms after a quick turnover of play by the home side.
In the second half, Stars started on the front foot and just two minutes in, Wanyama had an effort cleared off the line after the Togolese defence struggled to clear a corner.
Togo then made changes, Atakora Lalawele and Henen coming off for Jean D’arc Kossivi and Steeve Denkey as they sought to get the attacking edge and get back in.
They did so in the 64th minute when Ouro-Sama headed home from inside the box off a Dosseyi corner.
Kimanzi responded by making an attacking change, Nyakeya coming off for Zesco forward Jesse Were as the tactician went for a two-man attack.
The home side piled the pressure, but was not lucky to hit a winner with Wanyama coming closest with a header that went just wide.