Twenty-fifteen SportPesa Premier League Most Valuable Player Michael Olunga netted for Kenya’s Harambee Stars as they drew 1-1 with Uganda Cranes in an international friendly match at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on Thursday.
Olunga, who has previously featured for Gor Mahia, Thika United and Tusker, put Kenya in the lead after 34 minutes of play only for Uganda to pull level three minutes to time via Moses Waiswa’s strike.
It was an entertaining affair played at the unfamiliar Machakos venue with both sides showing enterprise and a desire to win the game; Positive football in other words.
Kenya and Uganda had both opted to give play time to local-based players, understandably so for the Cranes, who are building up for the 2018 African Nations Championship qualifiers that begin in April.
Only eight of the 23 players who played for Uganda in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations were part of the squad, as fringe players the likes of Emmanuel Okwi and Brian Majwegga were incorporated into the team.
In his lineup for the day, Okumbi selected six foreign-based players, leaving out captain, England-based Victor Wanyama and his assistant, Zambia-based David Owino.
Olunga, who recently moved to the money-rich Chinese league, showed just why he is one of Kenya’s hottest property, rounding Uganda defender Habib Kavuma to beat KCCA goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan, who had denied him twice in the opening 10 minutes of the match, with a wonderful strike.
It was a see-saw battle for the remainder of the half with the hosts just shading their age-old enemy in chances created.
Kenya returned stronger in the second half prompting coach Milutin Sredejovic to make three quick substitutions.
One of these changes was entry of 21-year-old Moses Waiswa for midfielder Muzamiru Mutyaba.
Eight minutes after his introduction, Waiswa justified his place in the pitch, neatly collecting Emmanuel Okwi’s pass to guide his shot into the net via the far post.
“We have to work on goal-scoring. We have been a little untidy in that front and we shall draft another plan for the next match on Sunday. I am not happy with this result. This is a match we should have scored many more goals especially considering the number of chances we had,” a dissatisfied Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi said after the game.
Kenya host Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday at Kenyatta Stadium in another international friendly match.