Kenya down Ghana in AFCON qualifier

By Gilbert Wandera: Sunday, September 9th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga celebrates his goal against Ghana [Courtesy]

An own goal helped 10-man Kenya sail over Ghana in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Kasarani yesterday.

Consequently, Harambee Stars are back on track in their quest to play in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals.

The goal that made all the difference came in the 40th minute when Ghanaian defender Nicholas Opoku put the ball in his own net.

Opoku failed to withstand pressure from Michael Olunga who ran to try and latch onto an Eric Johanna well-taken cross.

The Japan-based striker was a tightly marked man for the better part of the first half and before the goal came had just one shot at goal in the 35th minute.

Before that goal, the visitors looked to dominate the proceedings but still did not create any clear-cut chance.

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Stars started immediately with Ovella Ochieng outrunning himself on the right flank.

The Ghanaians threatened early with Christian Atsu’s long shot from the left flank going out with Patrick Matasi beaten in the Kenyan goal.

In the fourth minute, Ovella Ochieng was denied by Richard Ofori in goal even as the visitors got their first corner in the 11th minute.

The Ghanaians had the first shot at goal in the 17th minute when Thomas Partey was denied by Patrick Matasi in goal.

Shocked by the first half goal, the Black Stars came back strongly in an attempt to equalise and perhaps win the game as they forced a quick corner. The Ghanaians brought in Raphael Dwamena for Edwin Gyasi as they sought to beef their attack.

Kenya survived a scare in the 53rd minute when Nicholas Opoku’s free header beat Patrick Matasi in goal but went wide.

The home team were then reduced to ten men when Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango was sent off for denying Christian Atsu a goal scoring opportunity. Harambee Stars coach Sebastian Migne brought in David Ochieng and sacrificed Eric Johanna in a bid to lock the backline.

With a numerical disadvantage, Harambee Stars defended with everything they had and pushed on by the crowd, hang onto the slim lead. 

Ghanaian coach Kwesi Appiah was a disappointed man after the result and blamed his players for not taking their chances.

“Kenya had just one chance but we created so many chances which we threw away. That is what happens when you don’t take your chances,” he said.

Kenya’s coach Sebastian Migne said he was disappointed by the preparations around the match insisting that a lot needs to be done.

“We were denied opportunity to train at Kasarani and then some of our key players opted to stay away. We have a lot to do,” he said.