Harambee Stars draw DR Congo in Africa Cup warm-up

By Gilbert Wandera: Sunday, June 16th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Kenya's Harambee Stars take on the Democratic Republic of Congo in Sports Center Santa Ana Calle in Madrid, Spain on Saturday, June 15, 2019. [Standard Sports]

Kenya put up another fine show despite Masuaku cancelling Olunga’s brilliant strike in Harambee Stars final game before facing Algeria.

Harambee Stars concluded their preparations for the Africa Cup on Nations with a creditable 1-1 draw against fancied Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday night at Sports Center Santa Ana Calle in Madrid, Spain.

While the result and the performance gives Sebastien Migne some guarded optimism backed also by their 1-0 win over Madagascar, the Frenchman’s concern will be goalkeeper Patrick Matasi’s unpredictability between the sticks.

Michael Olunga struck from the edge of the box past Ley Matampi in the 25th minute after a surging run by Ayub Timbe as Kenya looked on course to shock the two-time African champions.

Matasi preserved Kenya’s lead with a well-time penalty save from Cedric Bakambu in  51st minute after he had been adjudged to have brought down Paul-Jose Mpoku after restart only to let the ball trickle into the net from Arthur Masuaku’s 87th minute free kick.

The St. Georges (Ethiopia) goalkeeper looked to have held onto Musuaku’s low free kick, but inexplicably nudged the ball into the back of the net.

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Migne later commented: “He was not really in the game after twisting his ankle during warm-up. When you make mistakes you have an opportunity to learn and I hope he has learned and will not repeat the same.”

Migne also pointed out that his backline could have done better to avoid conceding that penalty.

It was the second time in a row that Matasi had conceded and saved such a penalty the other instance being against Madagascar a week ago.

Matasi’s howler has many similarities written all over it as the goal he conceded against Ghana in their qualifying match.

“During the week, we discussed about such a situation and how to handle it but it looks like they did not listen to me. We will continue to talk about it and work on it.

“At this level you cannot afford to make certain mistakes because you will get punished for it. The less mistakes you make the better for you.

“We had chances to score more goals but we wasted our opportunities. I am happy with the result, but we could have done better.”

Migne was also satisfied with Timbe’s attacking qualities and believes the player can make a great impact.

“Today he showed me that he can play according to my philosophy and if he continues this way, he has the potential to become a great player even during the Africa Cup of Nations finals.”

Migne, however, will be concerned by the lack of impact from his substitutes on the night.

AFC Leopards winger Paul Were came on for Ayub Timbe while Francis Kahata rested for Ismael Gonzalez. Masoud Juma came on for Michael Olunga.

Harambee Stars tempo dropped significantly as Democratic Republic of Congo pressed for an equalizer which, however, came in comical fashion as Matasi aided their cause late on.

Harambee Stars travel to Egypt on Wednesday five days before their opening match against Algeria.

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