AFCON 2021 qualifiers: Harambee Stars held to a draw by the Sparrow Hawks of Togo

Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama (R) past Peniel KokouJean Kossivi of Togo during their Total Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers 2021 match first leg match at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi on November 18, 2019. Photo/Stafford Ondego

Kenya surrender first half lead to settle for a draw at home to Sparrow Hawks of Togo as Comoros frustrate the Egypt in Moroni to go top of Group G.

Kenya missed a chance to go level on points with Group G leaders Comoros after being held to a 1-1 draw by the Sparrow Hawks of Togo in Monday’s 2021 Africa Nations Cup Qualifiers tie at the Kasarani Stadium.

Belgiam-based Johanna Omolo had given Harambee Stars a first half lead only for lanky Belenenses defender Hakim Sama to cancel it out midway through the second half.

Comoros had earlier in the day extended a favour to Harambee Stars when they frustrated giants Egypt to a barren draw in Moroni.

This was Pharaohs’ second draw in the group after an identical result against Kenya in Alexandria last week.

With the results, Comoros remain top of the table with four points — two ahead of second-placed Kenya.

Francis Kimanzi’s men will be hoping to register their first win in the qualifiers when they clash with Comoros in a two-legged tie next year.

Kenya started on the front foot with Cliff Nyakeya earning a free kick on the left channel in the fifth minute, but Togo defended resolutely to block Victor Wanyama and Johanna Omolo’s efforts in succession following Eric Johanna’s delivery.

The Sparrow Hawks responded in the 11th minute when Matthieu Cangni raced down the right flank and delivered a brilliant cut back, but Eric Ouma recovered quickly to intercept it before David Boris missed a free header.

Eric Johanna then saw his long range attempt from right flank headed out by captain Dakonam Ortega for a fruitless corner.

Kenya came close to breaking the deadlock in the 25th minute when Eric Johanna delivered a fine cross in the box, only for Omolo’s close range effort to be deflected for a corner.

Moments later, Boris controlled the ball at the edge of the box after a superb build up but ballooned his effort before Kodjo Laba feebly shot straight at goalkeeper Ian Otieno.

After a series of attempts, Kenya finally got the breakthrough in the 35th minute when Omolo unleashed a long range screamer that flew past a hapless Togo custodian Malcolm Danjuma. Togo responded after two minutes, but Ian Otieno pulled off a fine save to stop Laba’s close range effort from Boris’ incisive cross.

Eric Johanna then saw his long range effort easily gathered by Togo keeper as Kenya went to the breather leading by a solitary goal.

Stars nearly doubled the lead two minutes into the second half when the ball fell into Olunga’s path in the area only for one of the Togolese defenders to make a last ditch goal line clearance before Eric Johanna missed another golden chance.

The hosts were punished in the 64th minute when Belenenses defender Hakim Sama rose high above the defence to power home a thumping header from Cangni’s corner kick. This came barely two minutes after Kenneth Muguna replaced his Gor Mahia teammate Lawrence Juma.

Ten minutes later Jesse Were came on for Nyakeya.

Olunga then saw his header from Eric Johanna’s delivery cleared by the opposition’s defender before Wanyama’s header went over the bar. Were almost got his name on the scoresheet but his shot in the box was blocked as the game petered out to a draw.