Harambee Stars begun their 2026 World Cup qualifiers on the back foot after losing 2-1 to Gabon at Stade De la Renovation in Franceville.
Masud Juma gave Kenya a 1-0 half time lead, a lead Engin Firat charges could not hold on to in the final half as the hosts rallied from behind to win in front of their fans.
Juma headed home into an empty net after capitalizing on defensive mistake and miscommunication between the Gabon goalkeeper Junior Noubi and his defender to score from a long range cross by Amos Nondi in the 40th minute.
The goal gave Kenya hope as they went to the breather with a lead.
However, in the second half, Johnstone Omurwa failed to clear a long range pass from the Gabon defense, a mistake Denis Bouanga capitalized on to level the scores in the 60th minute, lobbying the ball past a charging Patrick Matasi in goal for Kenya.
A series of bleak counter attacks followed for Kenya in an attempt to regain their lead but it was the hosts who had the last laugh after Guelor Kanga struck a 20-yard screamer past a helpless Matasi to win it for Gabon in the 88th minute.
Kenya was drawn in Group F of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers where they will face off against Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Burundi, and Seychelles.
Meanwhile, Burundi moved top of the group after edging out Gambia 3-2 in a five-goal thriller match played at Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Tanzania.
Abedi Bigirimana scored in the 31st minute to hand Burundi the lead before Frederic Nsabiyumva made it 2-0 four minutes later.
Musa Barrow pulled a goal back for Gambia at the stroke of half time before Abdallah Sudi restored the hosts two goal lead in the 75th minute as Burundi led 3-1.
A late Ebrima Colley penalty deep into stoppage time could not bore any fruits for Gambia as Burundi held on to win 3-2.