After making a dream start in the Four Nations Hero Intercontinental Cup with a 2-1 win over New Zealand on Saturday, Harambee Stars face a more involving second fixture against hosts India at the Mumbai Sports Arena today.
Against New Zealand, Stars were slower off the blocks but upped their performance as the match progressed to put the game beyond the reach of their opponents, thanks to goals from Cliffton Miheso and Ovellah Ochieng.
Comparatively, the Blue Tigers of India are stronger than the All Whites of New Zealand and this was choreographed in the Asian country’s resounding 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei, which is why Stars head coach Sebastien Migne should come out with a formidable squad if Kenya are to chalk a second win on the trot.
India are on top of the group on the strength of a better goal aggregate and the second-placed Kenya have no choice but fashion a clear-cut win if they harbour hopes of progressing in the tournament.
The good news, however, is that Stars exhibited resolve to recover even when trailing and assistant coach Francis Kimanzi, who stood in for Migne who arrived late in India, was able to read the game against New Zealand well and make necessary changes which bore fruit.
Sarpreet Sing had given the All Whites the lead in the 42nd minute but Miheso ensured both teams ended the half square at 1-1, curling a beautiful free-kick just before half-time.
In the 68th minute, Ochieng ensured Kenya garnered all the three points after he latched onto an inviting pass from his Kariobangi Sharks team-mate Patillah Omotto to beat the New Zealand goalkeeper with a harmless-looking shot.
The inclusion of late call-up John Makwata, who plies his trade with Buildcon of Zambia, also came in handy for Stars as the former Ulinzi Stars man was able to combine effectively with red-hot Wazito FC striker Pistone Mutamba to make penetrating runs inside New Zealand’s territory.
As usual Jockins Atudo should be a commanding figure in Stars defence and the Posta Rangers man alongside Musa Mohammed, Michael Kibwage and Eric “Marcelo” Ouma will be shouldered with the responsibility of keeping India strikers Alen Deory and Sunil Chetri at bay.