A late goal by Moses Waiswa denied Harambee Stars a comfortable win at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Thursday.
Wasteful Guizhou Zhicheng striker Michael Olunga scored the opener for the home team in the 34th minute, after a well taken long ball by goalkeeper Patrick Matasi. But a defensive lapse allowed the Cranes to score from the tightest of angles courtesy of Moses Waiswa, who latched on a loose ball to put it past hapless Matasi.
Coach Stanley Okumbi came into the match aiming to continue with his fine form of eight matches unbeaten and it seemed all were in his favour as the Stars dominated early proceedings. Michael Olunga missed several clean opportunities earlier on, including an eighth minute one-on-one with goalkeeper Ochan Benjamin.
It could have been a costly miss as the visitors won a free-kick few minutes later, only for Mutiyaba Muramiru to curl it inches wide. In the 27th minute, debutant Samuel Onyango was fed with the ball in the danger zone, but blasted wide with the goal at his mercy. His blushes were saved in the 34th minute as Olunga fired in a deserved opener.
In the 56th minute, it could have been 2-0 in favour of Harambee Stars, but Jesse Were failed to hit the target. Paul Were was introduced in place of Michael Olunga with half an hour to go, and his impact was felt almost immediately as he gave Wadada Nico a torrid time on the left.
A few minutes later, Stars won a free-kick in the edge of the eighteen yard box, but Robinson Kamura's effort came off the cross bar with the goalkeeper well beaten. Kenya paid for lost chances as substitute Waiswa took advantage of a misunderstanding between the defenders to equalize for the visitors.
Kenya starting line-up: Patrick Matasi, Brian Mandela (C), Musa Mohammed, Robinson Kamura, Aboud Omar, Anthony Akumu, Johanna Omollo, Samuel Onyango, Noah Wafula, Jesse Were and Michael Olunga.
Subs: David Okello, Simon Mbugua, Osbourne Monday, Kenneth Muguna, Bernard Mang’oli, John Makwatta and Paul Were.
Uganda Cranes: Ochan Benjamin, Nicholas Wadada, Walusimbi Godfrey, Murshid Juuko, Kavuma Habib, Alwany Timothy, Hassan Waswa (cpt), Emmanuel Okwi, Mutyaba Muramiru, Sserunkuma Geoffrey and Shafik Batambuze.
Subs: Watenga Isma, Majwega Brian, Karisa Milton, Mugerwa Yassar, Ntambi Kirizeston, Moses Waiswa, Martin Kiiza.