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SPORTS

Mali thrash Kenya 5-0 in World Cup qualifiers

FOOTBALL By Washington Onyango | October 8th 2021
Harambee Stars Richard Odada reacts against Uganda Cranes during their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifier Group E match at Nyayo national stadium on September 02, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Harambee Stars lost their first Group E match after going down to Mali 5-0 in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers played at Stade Adrar in Agadir in Morocco.

Ibrahim Kone scored a first-half hat trick to inspire the West Africans back to the helm of Group E after Uganda had temporarily gone on top after their narrow 1-0 win over hosts Rwanda in Kigali earlier on the day.

 Adama Traore and Moussa Doumbia joined in on the party in the five-goal thriller.

The win takes Mali top of the group with seven points followed by Uganda with five points as Kenya drop to third on two points.

Rwanda remains bottom with a point after losing two games and drawing one.

Ironically, Kenya started the match on the front foot with captain Michael Olunga coming close to give Stars the lead in the second minute of the match but he could only send his effort wide after finding himself clear on goal.

Five minutes later, the hosts took the lead with their first shot on target after Adama Traore shot sailed past a helpless Ian Otieno to give Mali a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute.

Harambee Stars tried searching for an immediate reply with long balls and in behind runs but the Malian defense marshalled by Falaye Sacko and Charles Traore stood strong.

At the quarter-hour mark, Mali head coach Mohamed Magassouba was forced to make an early change after Mamodou Fofana replaced injured Kiki Kouyate.

Southampton winger Moussa Djenepo would then introduce himself into the game with his dazzling dribbling skills sending Joash Onyango the wrong way before releasing Traore from the left wing to tee up Ibrahim Kone for a 2-0 lead in the 22nd minute.

At the half-hour mark, Djenepo returned once again to haunt the Kenyan defense whom he fooled before sending in a low cross from the left-wing that Kone narrowly missed before it was cleared for a corner.

With Kenya failing to settle into the game after a series of miss passes and poor ball possession, new Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat made a surprise early double substitution by withdrawing the returning Joash Onyango and midfielder Lawrence Juma for Hassan Abdallah and Erick Zakayo respectively.

The substitution did nothing in changing the tide of the match as Mali soon went 3-0 up after Kone grabbed his brace by tapping in an empty goal after meeting Amadou Haidara’s flick from a corner kick in the 36th minute.

Despite Onyango being withdrawn for Hassan, the change did nothing to stop Djenepo whose direct runs and twisting forced a penalty off a surging Hassan two minutes to the break.

Kone stepped up to grab his first hattrick in national team jerseys as Mali went 4-0 up at the breather.

In the final half, Firat made his third change bringing in Faruok Shikalo in goal to replace Ian Otieno.

However, the damage had already been done and despite numerous changes that saw Boniface Muchiri and Duke Abuya introduced later in the game, it is Mali who had the last laugh.

Substitute Moussa Doumbia sealed the win with a cheeky goal in the 85th minute.

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