Harambee Stars muster impressive victory over fourth best team in Africa with a familiar name on the scoresheet.
BY STEVE NJUGUNA
The Harambee Stars masterminded a rare victory over a superior force as they defeated Cape Verde by a 1-0 margin in a 2018 World Cup pre-qualifier played at the Nyayo National stadium in Nairobi on Friday afternoon. The victory continues Harambee stars’ impressive run as they are unbeaten in 3 games, their last loss being against Zambia in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier back in September.
The Kenyans were the underdogs going into the tie and some local pundits expressed pessimism in the face of the Cape Verde threat. However, it was the hosts who seized the initiative as the game started at a relatively fast pace.
There were a few players making a return to the starting line up with youngsters Harun Shakava and Clifton Miheso being surprise starters in the place of the injured Dennis ‘Wise’ Odhiambo and Ayub Masika Timbe while head coach Bobby Williamson preferred Anthony ‘Teddy’ Akumu to Collins Okoth ‘Gattuso’ in the center of midfield together with the captain Victor Wanyama who plies his trade with Southampton in the English top flight.
It did not take long for the swift Kenyan to strike as Gor Mahia star striker Michael Olunga continued his red hot form as he headed in from a cross in the 8th minute. Cape Verde were also hemmed in at their own half by the Harambee Stars as Victor Wanyama marshalled the game from the base of midfield with Kevin Kimani holding a lively tempo in the wing.
The second half saw a more restrained performance by the Kenyans as they looked to consolidate their lead. Cape Verde looked more convincing in attack though the Harambee Stars defense handled the pressure fairly well and the cool and composed goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch had a few decent saves though he was rarely seriously troubled. The return leg will be played in Cape Verde on Tuesday.