Harambee Stars earned a measure of redemption after edging out Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in their second friendly match in three days at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos yesterday.
This was French coach Sebastien Migne’s first win with the team since replacing Paul Put three weeks ago.
Stars, who lost 1-0 to Swaziland at the same venue last Friday, had to summon confidence and willpower in the second half to prevail over the stubborn Nzalang’ Nacionale who otherwise enjoyed superior ball possession.
Red-hot Wazito FC striker Pistone Mutamba scored his maiden goal for Stars in only his second cap for Kenya after beating the visitors’ goalkeeper Felipe Evono with a tap-in after Whyvonne Isuza’s right wing cross.
Before the goal, Stars were on the back-foot for long periods and were lucky not to concede in the first 15 minutes when Equatorial Guinea threw everything in the attack.
Pablo Ganet, a constant threat to Kenya’s defence, almost gave Nzalang’ the lead in the ninth minute when he cut through from the middle of the pitch, forcing a top save from goalkeeper Patrick Matasi.
Again, in the 11th minute, Esteben Orozco outpaced Jockins Atudo and Musa Mohammed and pulled the trigger with Matasi up to the task.
With Stars lacking creativity in midfield, Francis Kahata created the first real scoring chance in the 17th minute but his shot from 30 yards out flew over the crossbar.
Three minutes to the breather, Equatorial Guinea’s dominance told when they were denied what appeared a penalty after Valeriana Nchama was brought down inside the box.
But they slowed their tempo on resumption even after introducing Lois Enrique, Mariano Ondo and Saul Coco unlike Stars who were a transformed side after Ovella Ochieng’ was brought in.
Ochieng’s combination with Mutamba and Isuza was a menace to the visitors as the match turned physical, Joash Onyago needing medical attention after a vicious tackle.
Twice after his introduction, Ochieng shots were spilled by Ovono with no taker in sight to shoot past the custodian even as Stars suffered a set-back after Mohammed limped off the pitch with what appeared a serious ankle injury.
In the 69th minute, Ochieng made a touch too many after he was teed off by Isuza as Cosmo Anvene quickly fell back to foil the move.
Onyango then saved Kenya by stopping a goal-bound shot by Ndong but the closest the visitors came to equalising was deep in stoppage time when Enrique’s free kick hit the post with Matasi out of position.