NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – Harambee Stars played to a third successive draw in the qualifiers of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations after being held to a 1-1 scoreline by 10-man Comoros at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on Wednesday night.
Stars was left ruing missed chances especially in the second half when they had the lion’s share of possession and opportunities at goal, most which were not converted despite a numerical advantage.
Masud Juma scored Kenya’s equalizer in the 65th minute with an overhead kick, cancelling out Youssouf M’changama’s first half opener.
The visitors finished the opening half a goal up and a man down. M’changama turned from hero to villain, opening the scoring after 26 minutes and getting sent off five minutes to the break.
M’changama broke the deadlock with his swerving freekick taking a wicked deflection off the wall from almost 25 yards out after Mmadi Ali was fouled.
He was however sent off late in the half for two quick successive yellow cards for dissent, handing Kenya the numerical advantage.
Comoros had looked the most lively of the two teams exhibiting a good tactical shape, being patient on and off the ball, and had done their bit to try and open up the Kenyan defense.
Stars were nervy and disjointed, and their passing left a lot to be desired with no much structure looking in place.
M’changama had in the first minute tried to lob Origi as he saw him yards off his goal, but the effort went wide.
Stars had a huge opportunity in the third minute when Ayub Timbe’s well floated freekick found Brian Mandela unmarked at the edge of the six yard box, but the defender’s glancing header went inches wide.
Six minutes later, skipper Victor Wanyama had an effort from range, but the shot took a deflection, taking the sting off it, keeper Ahamada Ali making an easy collection.
The visitors kept their patience and as the half wore on, they got their rhythm. In the 22nd minute, they had a glorious opportunity when Mmadi broke through on goal to face Origi one on one, but he blasted his shot wide.
However, his blushes were wiped off four minutes later when M’changama scored, his freekick leaving Origi dazed.
Stars were thrust off their slumber, and swung into a quick reality check. They began to send the ball forward with more purpose, having struggled to create any danger in the final third with their choice of pass a let down.
Some good individual effort by Cliff Nyakeya in the 31st minute saw the Egypt based winger slalom his way into the box, but his stinging shot was punched away by the keeper.
Kenya’s course was helped by M’changama’s sending off in the 40th minute and they sought to take advantage of their numbers. They camped in the Comoros half and in the 43rd minute, Timbe had a low shot smothered away by the keeper.
Comoros made a change, bringing out Ben Djaloud Youssouf for Yacine Bourhane.
At the stroke of halftime, Stars should have drawn level when some good link up play saw Eric Johannah tee up skipper Wanyama but his shit from the left went inches wide.
At the start of the second half, coach Jacob ‘Ghost’Mulee made his first change, Samwel Olwande coming off at right back for David Owino.
But the intent from the Kenyans was straight forward; attack and get a goal.
Stars had an opportunity nine minutes after the restart when Nyakeya made a darting run on the right, cutting back for Johannah, but the latter’s shot was deflected for a corner with time and space.
Two minutes later, Timbe had a chance when he twisted and turned away from his marker on the left, but his eventual, shot with only the keeper to beat was tame, the shot stopper collecting calmly.
On the hour mark, Masud had a brilliant opportunity when he went through on goal after Eric Ouma picked him up with a good ball dumped behind the defense, but he took the wrong decision, cutting bac instead of going for goal.
The cut back found Johannah Omollo, but his shot was blocked a yard off the line by Nadjim Abdou.
But the striker made amends in the 65th minute with an audacious overhead kick beating the keeper after being picked out by a well delivered Johannah cross.
Stars kept the pressure on and in the 75th minute, Abdou denied Stars again when he cleared the ball off the line after a beauty of a pass from Owino landed on Wanyama inside the box, the skipper beating the keeper but not the defense.
With the clock running, Mulee went all out attack, John Mark Makwatta, Abdallah Hassan and Boniface Muchiri coming on for Johannah, Timbe and