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Kenya stun Ghana 1-0 in AFCON qualifier to revive hopes

By Kimathi Kamau NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Ten-man Kenya’s Harambee Stars stunned Black Stars of Ghana 1-0 with a spirited performance here on Saturday to revive their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying hopes from Group F to the Cameroon finals.

An own goal by Nicholas Opoku made the difference in the match where Kenyan defender Joash Onyango was sent off just after the hour mark to set a tense finish in Nairobi.

Victory put Kenya at the summit of Group F alongside Ghana despite trailing on goal difference pending the result between Ethiopia and Sierra Leone in Addis Ababa with both nations on three points.

It was a dream debut for Frenchman Sebastian Migne who took charge of Stars for the first time in a competitive match since being named head coach in May as his team held on for victory in a back-to-the-wall performance against the 2010 World Cup quarterfinalists and three-time African champions.

Kenya got off to an encouraging start when midfielder Ovella Ochieng got first shot on target in the fifth minute but Ghana custodian Richard Ofori was equal to the task.

Waris Majeed got the first attempt for Ghana in the 13th when he latched onto a through ball from Christian Atsu but his shot went harmlessly wide.

Atletico Madrid FC midfielder Thomas Partey was next with an attempt on goal but Stars keeper Patrick Matasi gathered easily.

Soon after the game resumed following injury to a Kenyan defender in the 26th, Atsu was at it again when he unleashed a left footed shot from the edge of the penalty area which Matasi held on to.

In the 35th, the break through came when Eric Johanna found Japan-based Olunga who forced Opuku into kicking the ball past his keeper to spark frenzied celebrations.

Kenya continued to defend well and pick out a couple of good passes, until the referee blew for the halftime break with the score 1-0 to the home team.

Both teams made changes at the break with Edwin Gyasi being replaced by Raphael Dwamena for the Black Stars as experienced Jockins Atudo joined the fray in place of Philemon Otieno who seemed to have picked up an injury.

Seven minutes into the second half, Abud Omar found Ochieng on the right flank with a beautiful pass that the latter brought down perfectly but his attempted pass to Olunga was intercepted.

Substitute Dwamena quickly got into the thick of things with a header that rose over the bar from a Ghanaian free kick in the 56th.

The Johanna and Olunga connection continued to cause problems for the visitors as a couple of good passes led to an opportunity that was blocked by a last inch tackle in the box.

Kenya were reduced to 10 men in the 61st when Onyango recklessly challenged Partey.

Migne had to immediately change his tactics as he took off attacking midfielder Eric Johanna and brought on defender David Ochieng.

Olunga went down injured with less than 10 minutes on the clock, after receiving treatment the game went on with the Kenyans desperately looking to hang onto the lead, which would be their first win in Group F.

Anthony Akumu replaced David Odhiambo in the 90th as the dream of a victory against Ghana started becoming more of a reality.

Stars will face Malawi on Tuesday in a friendly match at the same venue before back to back group matches against Ethiopia in October in a double header that could well define their quest of returning to the AFCON finals for the first time since Tunisia 2004.

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EARLIER REPORT:

Tanzania hold hosts Uganda 0-0 in 2019 AFCON qualifier

KAMPALA  (Xinhua) -- Uganda Cranes and visiting Tanzania Taifa Stars settled for a goalless draw in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier played at Ugandan National Stadium, Namboole on Saturday.

The game graced by Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga saw the home side dominate the Group L game, but fail to find the goals.

Striker Emmanuel Okwi and Joseph Benson Ochaya all had chances to score for Uganda, while Tanzania’s captain and Belgium based professional Mbwana Samatta also had some chances.

The draw keeps Uganda on top of the group with four points, while Taifa Stars secured their second point to move to second place.

“It is unfortunate that we failed to collect maximum points at home. But we shall continue to work hard to make sure we qualify for AFCON again,” Uganda Cranes captain and goalkeeper Dennis Onyango told Xinhua after the game.

Tanzania’s new coach and former Nigerian international Emmanuel Amunike was a happy man after the game.

“I have only been with the team for 10 days and they followed instructions to get this important point,” Amunike told Xinhua.

Uganda Cranes will next host Lesotho on Oct. 9, while Tanzania will play away the same day to Cape Verde.

             

 

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