Harambee Stars came from behind to record a 1-1 draw against Comoros in an Africa Cup Nations qualifier against Comoros at the Moi International Sports Complex on Wednesday.
After M'changama Youssouf had put Comoros ahead, Masoud Juma equalised for Harambee Stars in the second half after going down to the visitors who had to play with 10 men for the better part of the game.
Kenya looked the stronger side in the opening minutes and were unlucky not to take a lead in the second minute when Ayub Timbe floated the ball from the left-wing but Brian Mandela headed wide.
Comoros won a free-kick two minutes after Mandela had failed to open the score but the free-kick was delivered straight into Arnold Origi’s waiting hands who was starting for Kenya upon his return. Origi last played for Harambee Stars in 2016 and his inclusion in the starting team saw Ian Otieno, who himself had been preferred to Patrick Matasi, relegated to the bench.
Comoros threatened again in the fifth minute but Mandela’s clearance resulted in a corner which was thereafter stopped by a rising Origi.
A tackle on Timbe saw Youssouf receive a first yellow card as he attempted to stop the former Reading star from launching an attack from the left-wing.
Kenya caught Comoros off guard in the 11th minute when Cliff Nyakeya ran fast on the right-wing before passing the ball to Timbe on the left but the winger was brought down and the subsequent calls for a penalty were dismissed by referee Mutaz Ibrahim.
Comoros, who became a dominant side after the 15th minute almost grabbed an opener in the 18th minute but Joseph Okumu brought down Bakari Said - who was surging fast towards the goal area - near the penalty area. The Kenya centre-back was lucky not to commit a foul or receive a booking for the referee waved play on despite the heavy challenge on Said.
M’madi Ali failed to break the deadlock in the 21st minute when he found himself through on goal after a good build-up from midfield. Harambee Stars must thank the former HIFK Fotboll goalkeeper Origi for his brave act to close in on the Comorian and thwarted the danger.
Wanyama was dispossessed in midfield in the 27th minute but his rough reaction resulted in a free-kick that changed the scoreline. Mchangama took the free-kick which evaded Kenya’s static wall and found its way into the net.
Origi comically jumped on to his left side as the ball went past the goal line from the other side as Kenya conceded a third goal in the qualifiers.
The goalscorer was red-carded in the 41st minute after he committed a second bookable offence at the time his teammates looked a superior side.
After keeping the Kenyan strikers at bay with a number of key saves, Ahamada Ali finally conceded in the 65th minute when Juma’s half-volley found the top corner. Eric Johanna must take the credit for his move into the box, delivered the cross that Nyakeya flicked high enough for Juma to meet and struck the opener.
Ali, who looked tired in the last 20 minutes, committed a big mistake in the 80th minute when he spilt the ball to John Makwatta. David Owino had delivered the ball from the right-wing and Ali found it hard to clutch onto it but Makwatta, on his part, was not quick enough to slot home.
As Comoros would thank Ali for keeping them in the game, Kenya on the other side got stabilised at the back after the introduction of David Owino.
The two countries will clash again on November 15 in Moroni.
Kenya Starting XI: Arnold Origi, Samuel Olwande, Brian Mandela, Joseph Okumu, Eric Ouma, Victor Wanyama, Johanna Omolo, Eric Johanna, Ayub Timbe, Cliff Nyakeya, Masud Juma.
Subs: Ian Otieno, Brian Bwire, David Odhiambo, David Owino, John Avire, John Makwatta, Ismael Gonzalez, Anthony Akumu, Bonface Muchiri, Kenneth Muguna, Hassan Abdallah.
Comoros Starting XI: Ahamada Ali, Abdou Najim, M'changama Youssouf, Mdahoma Kassim, Abdullah Raffidine, M’madi Ali, Youssouf Bendjaloud, Youssouf Mohammed, Mogni Ahmed, Mohhamed Ben El-Fardou, Bakari Said.
Subs: Boina Ben (GK), Abdallah Kassim, Zakary Younn, Soilihi Ahmed, Zakouani Hosseine, Ibrahim Youssouf, Aboubakari Nakibou, Madi Ibrahim, Bourhane Yacine, Mattoir Faiz.