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Tension, frustration, anxiety as Kenyans draw blanks in well-attended match

In their droves, thousands of football fans made their way to the Nyayo National Stadium for national team Harambee Stars second match of the 2017 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers with anticipation of a great results.

Those who had thronged the venue of the qualifying tie between the Kenya Stars and Zambia’s ‘Chipolopolo’ left the venue angry, frustrated and totally dejected after seeing their team lose 1-2 to the visitors in a match they led for at least a quarter of an hour.

The 34,000 capacity stadium was filled to the brim and by fans who cheered Stars every move as diminutive Ayub Timbe thrilled with his footwork. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero were among the local ViPs on the stands to cheer Kenya.

At exactly 4pm local time, the game was set in motion with the match referee’s first whistle with hordes still queuing for the tickets which were sadly released on the day of the match.

Some were still struggling to get their tickets at kick-off as the hundreds still out of the stadium endeared to witness their star players who included English Premiership side Southampton’s Victor Wanyama, unattached Denis Oliech, goalkeeper Arnold Origi of Lillestrom, Belgium-based Ayub Timbe, and Gor Mahia hotshot Michael Olunga.

Delirium was witnessed in the stands across the sporting facility when Olunga poked home the opening goal, reducing Zambia’s celebrated shot stopper Kennedy Mweene to ordinary levels. Celebrations for Olunga’s first senior international goal faded after quarter hour and what followed were jeers from the fans.

First, there was a pin-drop silence when the former African champions scored their first goal and frustration even grew when the Zambians added a second after a school playground blunder in the defence.

The second half witnessed frustration and anxiety as the home side failed to translate chances that came their way with tension building from the first minute of the half following an unnecessary hand-throw awarded after a Kenyan defender failed to control an easy ball.

The home side was never the same and it was well captured in the mood of the fans. A campaign banner praising Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Sam Nyamweya was carted away by angry fans soon after Zambia scored their second goal and a re-election campaign ran a cropper.

Frustrations swelled in the second-half as Zambia thwarted all efforts by Kenya to level scores and with 10 minutes remaining on the clock dejected fans started leaving the grounds. The fans overran security after the match, filing into the pitch to vent their frustration.

Kenyan captain Wanyama was escorted out of the field by security after the angry fans accosted him. For the Zambians, however, it was pure joy as they savoured away victory.

Zambian coach George Lwandamina said he does not care what his players are lablled as long as the team wins. “The players were not wasting time and I don’t care what you say about them so long as the result is positive,” he said.

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