Harambee Stars suffered a 2-1 loss to Sierra Leone on Saturday in Freetown in their opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group F qualifier.
Julius Wuobay and captain Umaru Bangaura scored a goal in each half for Sierra Leone while Michael Olunga pulled a goal back for Kenya who played with 10 men for more than 45 minutes.
The result ended Harambee Stars’ 10-match unbeaten run under coach Stanley Okumbi.
Wuobay sent Leone Stars ahead in the 22nd minute when he took advantage of a badly leaking Kenya defence to send the ball past a badly exposed Boniface Oluoch in the visitor’s goal.
Stars suffered another major setback 20 minutes later when South Africa-based defender Brian “Niang” Mandela received a straight red card for bringing down goal-bound Alhassan Kamara.
Stars fought on gallantly despite their numerical inferiority and did have their chances to rescue the game. Okumbi effected changes immediately after the breather bringing in defender David “Cheche” Ochieng in place of rookie striker Masoud Juma.
Kenya though fell further behind in the 68th minute as left back Eric “Marcelo” Ouma brought down John Kamara inside the box, and up stepped Bangura to send goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch the wrong way with the resultant penalty kick.
Kenya raised their hopes on 75 minutes when China-based Olunga beautifully guided his free kick from the edge of the danger area into the far corner of the net.
Olunga, had earlier in the first half squandered an excellent opportunity to put Kenya ahead, failing to show composure with a yawning goal staring at him from near point blank range.
A downpour in the second half exacerbated the already poor condition of the pitch affecting the ability of both sets of player to play good football.
Kenya next qualifier fixture is against Ghana’s Black Stars in Nairobi on March 23, 2017.
Kenya squad: Boniface Oluoch, Musa Mohammed, Erick Ouma Kolkheti, David Owino, Brian Mandela, Victor Wanyama, Anthony Akumu, Erick Johanna, Ayub Timbe, Masoud Juma, Michael Olunga. Replacements: Patrick Matasi,Simon Mbugua, Joseph Okumu, David Ochieng, Samuel Onyango, Stephen Waruru, Ernest Wendo