Livewire Olunga inspires Kenya’s Harambee Stars to win over Tanzania

Livewire Olunga inspires Kenya’s Harambee Stars to win over Tanzania

Livewire Michael ‘Engineer Micah’ Olunga had his day in the sun literally igniting Kenya’s campaign in the Africa Cup of Nations with two beautifully taken goals, the first in the 37th minute and the winner in the 79th minute as Harambee Stars twice rallied from behind to eclipse Tanzania’s Taifa Stars 3-2 at a lively 30 June Stadium here in Cairo.

The win was Kenya’s first in the tourney and three points for that matter as campaigns for a last-16 berth got tighter in the group.

Earlier on at the same venue, Algeria clipped Senegal 1-0  in a blockbuster Group C  fixture to qualify for the last 16, assuming leadership of the group on six points, Youcef Belaili scoring the all important goal.

Algeria is on six points as Senegal and Kenya are on three apiece, with the Taifa Stars rock bottom with zero despite their battling performance here.

Kenya must now fight the battle of their lives on Monday against wounded Senegalese Lions to have a strong case for a knockout slot.

In a thick and action packed first half, Kenya fell behind in the fifth minute resulting from a ruthless counter attack, Mbwana Samatta fired a fierce shot from the left flank in the build up to the goal which goalie Patrick Matasi spilled and Saimon Msuva was at hand to thump home the rebound leaving Harambee Stars shell-shocked.

By the 13th minute Kenya had conceded a foul,  a dangerous one at the edge of the box but luckily it didn’t cause more harm.

Saimon of Tanzania challenges Victor Wanyama during the match.PHOTO/Sportpicha/Stafford Ondego/Citizen

In a bid to get his team ticking, Harambee Stars coach Sebastien Migne made three changes to the squad that was battered 2-0 by Algeria in the opening match bringing on David ‘Calabar’ Owino, Eric Ouma ‘Marcelo’ and  Johanaa Omollo for Philemon Otieno, Eric Johana and Dennis Odhiambo respectively but the boys were still at their erratic worst, not learning from the mistakes of their Sunday waterloo when they were roundly beaten by the Desert Foxes.

Kenya huffed and puffed for an equaliser but left their rearguard exposed before Michael Olunga hauled Kenya level with an outrageous overhead kick in the 37th minute, before being punished three minutes later, dangerman Mbwana Samatta hitting back to leave Kenya crestfallen, the scoreline reading 2-1 in favour of  the Tanzanians before Omollo made things level with a header in the 61st minute.

Marcelo, deployed as a left winger was busy at his work station with several runs forward but most of his crosses were erratic moreso in the first 15 minutes.

Kenyan fans follow the action at the June 30 Stadium.PHOTO/Sportpicha/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha

In the 20th minute, Ouma crossed invitingly but Olunga failed to make proper connection before Ayub Timbe’s attempt from the loose ball was blocked resulting to a corner,  with Olunga’s header coming off the wood work as Kenya upped the pressure.

Francis Kahata, deployed as a Number 10 in a 4-4-2 formation was once again unimpressive, being substituted in the 32nd minute and in his place came Sofapaka ace John Avire as Migne shifted to a 4-4-2 from a 4-2-3-1.

Kenya’s rearguard was once again caught napping  in the 42nd minute but this time Matasi, faulted for his erratic judgement in this match, tipped Hassan Khamis goal bound effort above the cross bar.

Eighteen minutes later, skipper Victor Wanyama, largely anonymous in this game, had his header cleared off the line from an Ayub Timbe corner but Olunga had the magic on his sleeve with a well drilled low shot to the left bottom corner of of Tanzania goalie Aishi Salum for the sweet-savoured win.

Sadio Mane of Senegal battles for the ball with Riyad Mahrez(right) of Algeria in their Group C AFCON clash Thursday at the June 30 Stadium in Cairo,Egypt. PHOTO/Sportpicha/Stafford Ondego/Citizen

Kenya Starting XI

  1. Patrick Matasi, 2.Joseph Okumu, 3.Abud Omar, 5. Musa Mohamed, 7.Ayub Timbe, 8.Johanna Omolo, 11. Francis Kahata, 12. Victor Wanyama(Capt), 13. Erick Ouma, 14. Michael Olunga, 15. David Owino


1.Faruk Shikhalo, 4.Joash Onyango, 6.Bernard Ochieng, 9.John Avire, 10.Eric Johana, 16.Paul Were, 17.Ismael Gonzales, 19. Masud juma, 20. Philemon Otieno, 21. Dennis Odhiambo, 22. Ovella Ochieng

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