China-based striker Michael Olunga scored a brace to guide Harambee Stars to a 2-1 win over Democratic Republic of Congo in a thrilling international friendly match played at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Sunday.
Olunga, popularly known as Engineer, gave Stars the lead in the fifth minute, only for DR Congo to restore parity via Gael Kakuta earlier in the second half.
Olunga, a former Kenyan Premier League MVP, doubled his accounts to secure an encouraging victory while extending Stars unbeaten run to 10 games.
Olunga’s first goal was a beauty, as he collected a cross delivered from the midfield by South Africa-based defender Brian Mandela and drove forward before beating DRC goalkeeper Joel Kiassumbua on his near post.
He got himself in good position three times afterwards, but Kiassumbua was equal to the challenge.
Congo coach Florent Imbenge did not make any immediate changes after the break, but his team picked up their attack with 2017 Africa Cup of Nations top scorer Junior Kabananga, midfielder Jonathan Bolingi and defender Fabrice Nsakala coming close. Kabananga did score a goal that was disallowed for offside.
Kakuta, introduced in the second half, equalized for the visitors with a fantastic free kick at the hour mark.
He had been felled by Zesco United striker Jesse Were, and obligingly picked himself up to guide the dead ball past Stars goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch.
Olunga decisively came through for Stars in the 70th minute, stabbing home Ulinzi Stars midfielder Samuel Onyango’s cross.
Jordan Ikoko and Yeni Ngbokani provided nervy moments for Kenya in the last 10 minutes. Ngbokani even scored a goal in stoppage time, disallowed for an infringement inside the danger area.
“We told ourselves that the game is 90 minutes and we all promised to give our best during that period. The pitch isn’t that good but we tried to contain DRC, fighting through to the end even after they fought back with a goal. Hopefully, we can continue like this in the important games such as the Afcon qualifiers,” Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama said after the match.