Harambee Stars in dream start on road to AFCON 2021 as Olunga cancels out Kharba’s goal to hold Pharaoh’s in Alexandria.
Kenya’s Harambee Stars put in a scintillating performance forcing the Pharaohs of Egypt to a famous 1-1 draw in Thursday’s opening Group G match of the 2021 Africa Nations Cup Qualifiers at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria.
Francis Kimanzi was forced to make an early substitution with Zambia-based goalkeeper Ian Otieno replacing injured Patrick Matasi in the fifth minute.
Egypt came close to breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute but Mohamed Moursy’s effort went agonizingly wide before Ian Otieno did well to stop Mohamed Soliman.
Kenya responded after three minutes when Ayub Timbe waltzed through the Egyptian defence only to be foiled by goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy.
Harambee Stars intensified their attack, forcing the Pharaohs on the back foot and three minutes later they got another chance after Michael Olunga found himself inside the box, cut inside but he failed to beat Elshenawy between the posts.
Kimanzi then brought in FC Masr winger Cliff Nyakeya for Timbe on the half-hour mark.
But the Egyptians nearly took the lead in the 32nd minute through a quickly-taken free-kick but Mahmoud Trezeguet’s attempt flashed inches wide before Eric Johanna’s attempt went over the bar on the opposite end.
Moments later, Eric Johanna then forced a fine save from the keeper before Kenya earned a free kick in a promising position following Mahmoud Ibrahim’s handball.
However, Olunga’s effort from the resulting free-kick was well blocked by the hosts’ defensive wall before Johanna’s follow up was deflected for a fruitless corner.
But in the 42nd minute, Mahmoud Kahraba capitalised on Kenya’s defensive blunder to open the scoring. Kahraba pounced on Lawrence Juma’s weak back pass after Otieno failed to clear it, leaving it an easy job for the Portuguese-based forward to comfortably slot the ball into an empty net.
Just like the first half, Kenya created a number of half chances in the second half with Johanna Omollo failing to control the ball in the box from the left channel at the hour mark before Olunga’s effort was blocked by a self-sacrificing Egyptian defender.
Egypt then launched a counter-attack, but Trazegeut effort went wide before Johanna Omollo paved way for Kenneth Muguna.
Olunga made the amends six minutes later with a stunning equaliser. Substitute Cliff Nyakeya did well to dispossess Ahmed Fathi in the box then set up the Kashiwa Reysol talisman who made no mistake to put the ball in the net.
Kenya survived a scare in the 80th minute when Kahraba forced a fine save from Ian Otieno with Joseph Okumu reacting quickly to scramble away the ball before Samwel Olwande hurled himself at the ball to block another goal bound shot.