Togo rally to hold Harambee Stars

Monday November 18 2019

Kenya's Harambee Stars midfielder Victor Wanyama (right) vies with Togo midfielder Peniel Kokou during their Africa Cup of Nation qualifier at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on November 18, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |


Despite an entertaining display, Kenya dropped two crucial points in the race to play at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, after settling for an a one-all draw at home to Togo at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Monday.

This result coupled with Comoros barren draw at home to Egypt throws the qualification puzzle in this four-team group wide open.

Thus, surprise package Comoros top the standings with four points from two matches.

Kenya and Egypt are second with two points apiece, while Togo is last having garnered a single point in two matches.

The top two teams from this pool with qualify to compete at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The exciting opening stanza of this game was capped by a brilliant goal from Johanna Omolo ten minutes to the break.


But the West Africans gallantly fought back, and defender Hakim Oura equalised with a bullet header off a corner kick 20 minutes after the break.

"It was a good game, the boys showed fantastic mentality against a top and experienced team. The draw is what we got and we will improve on that to try get a win in the next game at home," said Stars coach Francis Kimanzi.

Based in Belgium, 29-year-old Omolo initially stole possession from a Togolese defender in the final third in the run up to his goal.

And as perhaps every player on the pitch was anticipating he will pass the ball to a teammate, Omolo instead released a fierce left-footed shot with the ball coming off the inside of the bar on its way in giving visiting keeper Malcom Danjuma no chance.


Kenya's Harambee Stars midfielder Johanna Omolo celebrates scoring against Togo during their Africa Cup of Nation qualifier at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on November 18, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Moments after this passage of play, Kenya's reserve keeper Ian Otieno produced arguably the save of the match.

The impressive James Olufade had found his way past Joseph Okumu in defence, and laid on to Kodjo Laba whose goal-bound shot seemed destined for the top corner.

But Otieno acrobatically threw himself and parried the ball back into play, before Erick 'Marcelo' Ouma hacked the rebound to safety.

It could have been worse for Togo and under pressure coach Claude Le Roy moments after the restart but Lawrence Juma's goal-bound effort was cleared off the line.

Overall, Kenya had started the better of the two teams with the midfielders and forwards in particular exhibiting a crisp passing brand of play that characterises coach Francis Kimanzi's philosophy.

Defender Samuel Olwande was presented with the first chance of the game in minute two after being played through on goal by Eric Johanna.

The Kariobangi Sharks player however fluffed the opportunity by shooting wide.

Johanna also failed to utilise the game's next chance, as his effort from inside the box came off wide.

Then Togo slowly fought their way back into the game.

First, David Henen tasted Ian Otieno from range but then the reserve keeper was equal to the challenge.

Moments later, Henen easily beat Ouma down the right and floated a dangerous cross that was well cleared by defender Joash Onyango with Steve Josue lurking.

Kimanzi brought on Jesse Were, Kenneth Muguna and Boniface Muchiri late on as Kenya piled pressure for a winner. But it never arrived.