Harambee Stars drop points against Burundi in 2026 World Cup qualifier

Harambee Stars forward Duke Abuya acores past Burundian goalkeeper Nahimana.[FKF]

A last minute defensive lapse saw Kenya drop two vital points on Friday evening after Burundi held Harambee Stars to a disappointing 1-1 draw in a crucial Group F World Cup qualifier match played at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Duke Abuya came off the bench to give Stars a deserved 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute before a defensive mistake by Daniel Anyembe gifted Burundi the equaliser in the 85th minute when Sudi Abdalla pounced on the loose ball to rescue a point for The Swallows.

The result leaves Kenya third in Group F with four points same as Burundi. Stars are in the same group with Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia and Seychelles.

Burundi started the game solid by dictating play in the opening 10 minutes, moving the ball up and down with ease as Gael Bigirimana, Mokono Eldhino and Abedi Bigirimana commanded the midfield.

With Kenya taking too long to settle, the Burundians had a sniff at Kenya’s goal when Bienvenue Kanakimana broke from the right wing before releasing a dangerous cross that was intercepted by goalkeeper Patrick Matasi.

Stars first clear attempt came in the 22nd minute but the resultant free kick by Michael Olunga hit the wall.

The set piece however ignited Stars’ game play as the silent Anthony Okumu paired with Richard Odada and Kenneth Muguna took matters into their own hands and started engineering attacks for Kenya.

Kenya’s first shot on target came in the 28th minute when a long ball from Rooney Onyango intended for Olunga was cleared by Derrick Mukombozi before a rushing Okumu sent a low shot that was punched away by Burundian goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana.

At the half hour mark, Nahimana was called to action again when he saved a long range goal attempt from Odada, the last clear goal scoring chance for Kenya as the two sides went to the break tied at 0-0.

In the final half, Stars came out more aggressive and they almost scored five minutes after the restart when the Burundian keeper Nahimana failed to hold on to a Timothy Ouma free kick, a loose ball that after a fumble in the box was sent wide by Abud Omar from long range.

The match’s first clear goal scoring chance followed immediately when Burundi through a counter attack initiated by Bigirimana found striker Saidi Ntibazonkiza who released a charging Kanakimana from the right wing on goal only for the winger to be denied by the post.

With the teams now exchanging attacks after attack, Kenya came close to taking the lead in the 62nd minute when Timothy Ouma rounded off fullback Akbar Muderi before sending a loping ball that Nahimana saved with his fingertips as the ball swayed inches wide off the net.

Sensing danger, Firat introduced Gor Mahia midfield maestro Austin Odhiambo and Duke Abuya for Ouma and Miheso, a move that paid off when Odhiambo found Abuya with a neat pass that he slotted past an advancing Nahimana.

However, things went to shambles for Stars immediately after taking the lead as Firat charges resorted to defensive style of play, a change in tactic that favoured Burundi.

With Kenya playing from behind and trying to keep possession, Burundi kept on pressing and attacking with every chance they got.

The pressing finally paid off for Burundi in the 85th minute when substitute Sudi Abdalla pounced on a loose ball that was mishandled by Daniel Anyembe before rounding off Matasi and tapping the ball into an empty net.

A late weird substitution by Firat who withdrew second half substitute Austin Odhimabo for FKF Premier League top scorer Benson Omalla bore no fruits as Kenya dropped two vital points.

Kenya’s next match will be against Africa Cup of Nations champions Ivory Coast on Tuesday at the same venue.

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Kenya Starting Lineup against Burundi

Patrick Matasi (GK), Johnstone Omurwa, Daniel Anyembe, Rooney Onyango, Abud Omar, Anthony Akumu, Richard Odada, Kenneth Muguna, Cliffton Miheso, Timothy Ouma, Michael Olunga

Substitutes

Byrne Omondi, Ian Otieno, Collins Sichenje, Alphonce Omija, Baron Ochieng, John Ochieng, Chrispine Erambo, Duke Abuya, Austin Odhiambo, John Avire, Benson Omalla

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