Harambee Stars started their quest for the 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge on a high note after downing Amavubi of Rwanda 2-0 on Sunday.
A Masoud Juma penalty and Duncan Otieno screamer was all the Cecafa hosts needed to register maximum points at Bukhungu Stadium, Kakamega.
It was Paul Put's first assignment as Kenya coach and knowing the importance of this game, he made several changes in the starting line-up giving starts to Patrick Matasi, Dennis Sikhayi, and late call up Wesley Onguso.
With thousands of fans turning out to watch the match at Bukhungu, a positive start for the hosts was needed to ease the pressure. After a fruitless first ten minutes, the Kenyan side found its footing in the 11th minute courtesy of George Odhiambo .
The Gor Mahia winger was fed well from the left, beat his marker but Rwanda's keeper Ndashimiye Erick denied him. Two minutes later, Ndashimiye was called into action again, making a critical touch to the cross from the right by Samuel Onyango to take the ball off the waiting Masoud Juma.
The attacks from the hosts confused their opponents who failed to read the game, and they gave away fouls needlessly. The most effective was a 24th minute one, Odhiambo was fouled a few meters past the half way mark, and the referee awarded a free-kick.
Kayumba Soter had no option but foul Jockins Atudo, and the referee gave a penalty and cautioned the defender. Masoud Juma rose for the occasion, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
The Kariobangi Sharks man had another opportunity to double the lead in the 37th minute, after being picked by Whyvonne Isuza but the striker blasted the ball wide for a goal kick.
However, the Amavubi gave away possession seconds later, and the one Isuza set the ball for his club captain Duncan Otieno and the striker unleashed unstoppable thunderbolt from almost 35 meters past desperate Ndashimiye .
The Antoine Hey coached side had to play with ten men after Soter was sent off in the 52nd minute following a second bookable offense. The defender clipped Sikhayi and the referee had no option but punish him.
With about thirty minutes left, Masoud Juma was stretchered off after being elbowed, an incident the referee missed and Kepha Aswani replaced him.
The heavy downpour in the second half made it hard for both teams to control the ball effectively, but Kenya had done enough to record a vital win in the Group A opener.
Harambee Stars starting XI: Patrick Matasi, Jockins Atudo, Denis Sikhayi, Wesley Onguso, Musa Mohammed, Whyvone Isuza, Duncan Otieno, Patillah Omoto, Samuel Onyango, George Odhiambo and Masud Juma.
Reserves: Boniface Oluoch, Gabriel Andika, Said Tsuma, Benard Ochieng, Ovella Ochieng, Chrispin Oduor, Isaac Kipyegon, Wellington Ochieng, Ernest Wendo, Charles Momanyi, Vincent Oburu and Kepha Aswani.