Kenya’s race for a place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia started on a positive footing with the Harambee Stars gaining a massive advantage in a 5 – 2 win over the Mauritius national team, Les Dodos on Wednesday 7 October.
Kenya did not have the best of preparations for this match but gave a great output against a visibly weaker opponent, with the foreign based players who arrived a day to the game playing a vital part.
Royal Antwerp midfielder Johanna Omollo tapped in the opener after 19 minutes unmarked inside the six yard box with credits for the assist going to Michael Olunga who did well to control Dennis Odhiambo’s long throw before beating his marker and cutting back a cross for Omollo to finish.
Omollo almost got his second on the 21st minute but his shot from the edge of the box went wide after picking a loose ball from Ayub Timbe who was bullied down by the Mauritius defence.
Timbe went on to score his second international goal in the 24th minute straight from the corner after his initial free kick from a tight angle was hoofed out of play by the Mauritius defense after it came off the upright.
Kenya went to the break leading 2 – 0 and four minutes after the restart, Gor Mahia defender Harun Shakava got his first international goal as he poked in from close range after Olunga knocked down Timbe’s corner.
With the comfortable lead, Coach Bobby Williamson pulled out David Ochieng who was on a yellow card for Musa Mohammed and soon after Mohammed fouled Mauritius striker Sophie in the box and Sophie stepped forward to score.
Mauritius reduced the deficit to a single goal in the 78th minute through Jonathan Bru who deflected off a shot from Kevin Perticot at the edge of the box after some poor defending from Kenya.
The hosts’ comeback suffered a heavy blow with Omollo getting his second five minutes after the second Mauritius’ goal as he headed in from a Kevin Amwayi cross.
The impressive Olunga then got his second senior team goal in as many games with a cool finish two minutes from time, this time Omollo returning the favor with a nice pass.
Kenya will now return home on Thursday 8 October in time for the return leg on Sunday 11 October targeting an aggregate win that would set up a meeting with Cape Verde in the second round of qualifiers.