The Kenya national team Harambee Stars rose from a goal down to beat their more fancied opponents, Congo Brazzaville 2 – 1 in the two nations’ 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier staged at the Moi International Sports Center (MISC) Kasarani on Sunday 5 June.
Kenya started on a high note, showing more hunger and displayed a better game than they did in the two friendly matches against Tanzania and Sudan in preparation for this match and they should have taken the lead early had Michael Olunga not blasted his shot high.
Despite the early dominance from Kenya, it was the hosts who took the lead, Prince Oniangue slotting home from the penalty spot after Kenyan midfielder Ismail Gonzalez was judged to have fouled him in the box on the 19th minute.
Gonzalez got a yellow card for his adjudged foul even though replays showed otherwise.
Kenya protested the decision but managed to keep their cool and in the end Ayub Timbe came to the rescue with a well powered shot that beat Christopher Mafoumbi in the Congo goal. The ball that ended in the net had just three touches – a goal kick, one miscued touch from the Congo defence that put the ball in Timbe’s way and his shot for the equalizer.
Congo should have taken the lead immediately after and a surge forward saw them well composed getting Kenya defenders off guard and Oniangue got the chance to head from a free kick but his attempt bounced off the bar.
The teams went to the break level and it was Kenya once again who resumed with the hunger for the third goal though Congo looked dangerous when with the ball.
Congo pushed hard and played deep with Kenya soaking in the pressure but on the 67th minute, skipper Victor Wanyama picked out Eric Johanna with a long ball and the Mathare United youngster beat the Conge defence with pace before volleying nicely above Mafoumbi who took long before leaving his line.
The goal was Eric Johanna’s first on the international scene and it served head coach Stanley Okumbi the first win of his tenure after five matches.
The win was also Kenya’s first in the qualifiers after losing the previous three and drawing one, incidentally, with Congo in the very first match of the qualifiers.
Kenya, despite the win, remains bottom of the group with four points and will be hoping to repeat the same in Zambia when they tour Lusaka for the final match of the qualifiers in September.
The result also implies that Guinea Bissau, the minnows in the group have now qualified for the tournament after beating Zambia in their match on Saturday 4 June in Bissau.