Spirited ‘Stars’ held by ‘Cranes’ in Machakos
The Ugandan national team, Cranes came from a goal down to hold Kenya’s Harambee Stars to a 1 – 1 draw in the interna tional friendly staged at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Thursday 23rd March.
Michael Olunga slotted Kenya’s opener on the 34th minute but a late goal from Moses Waiswa denied Kenya a famous win on the two teams’ 90th meeting in history.
Kenya head coach Stanley Okumbi gave first caps to Ulinzi Stars forward Samuel Onyango as well as goalkeeper Patrick Matasi and they showed little signs of naivety in the opening exchanges as they fitted in well in a team mostly made up of players used to this stage.
Michael Olunga, fresh from his move to China provided the spark upfront and settled well in the three – man forward line picked by Okumbi. His first attack after combining well with Samuel Onyango should have yielded the opening goal on just the first minute but he shot wide.
A second chance would fall at his feet invitingly after ten minutes but this time the Uganda keeper Benjamin Ochan was quick off his feet to smother the danger.
Wadada, Shafik moments
On the other end Nico Wadada and Tusker FC’s Shafik Batambuze gave the Kenyan wingbacks some troublesome moments when Uganda attacked.
At some point Musa Mohamed’s experience was called upon to stop a flowing attack started by Cranes skipper Hassan Waswa with the ball spread wide for Batambuze who picked out Wadada but Mohamed was alert to the danger and intervened.
Patrick Matasi was forced to make a double save from an Emmanuel Okwi dipping shot on the 20th minute, the first attempt seeing him parry the ball before recovering to wrap it in his arms. His safe hands came to the rescue again from a Timothy Awany attack moments later before Musa Mohamed slid in to stop a marauding Batambuze.
The spell of dominance from Cranes would end soon after as a long punt from the defence saw Olunga expertly bring the ball down before cutting in past a crowded Uganda Cranes defence to fire low past Ochan for the opening goal on the 34th minute.
He should have claimed a brace just before the break after stumbling on a poor clearance from Murushid Jjuko but his curling effort was just a few inches high as the opening half ended in Kenya’s favor.
The second half started well for Kenya and Noah Wafula should have doubled the lead for Stars after controlling Paul Were’s pass in the box, with the goal clear in his view but he shot wide and moments later Jesse Were was also culpable for a big miss.
It took a momentary lapse of concentration from the Kenya defence, with Aboud Omar and Brian Mandela caught out by a long ball from Hassan Waswa, the pass picked out Moses Waiswa who spotted Matasi off his line and just looped the ball over him for an 86th minute equalizer.
Kenya had a last chance to take the lead on the 90th minute with free kick specialist Robinson Kamura presented with a good chance from 25 yards out but his hit lacked precision and went straight to Ochan’s waiting arms.