Thursday, September 2
*Kenya 0-0 Uganda
Uganda Cranes held Kenya Harambee Stars to start their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign with a point.
The Cranes, playing their first competitive game under coach Milutin Micho Sredejovich, defended tirelessly in a game they looked the second best at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi.
The Cranes thought they were awarded a penalty when Joseph Okumu brought down Milton Karisa but the referee overturned his decision to award a freekick after consulting his assistant who was convinced that the foul was outside the box.
Joseph Ochaya, from the resultant freekick, fired poorly and wide Uganda’s best chance on the day.
The Cranes defence, led by Murushid Juuko will take great credit for fending off resistance from Kenya skipper Michael Olunga.
Micho will be convinced with the performance but will be worried after Emmanuel Okwi and Halid Lwaliwa were stretchered off injured before the break.
Uganda, who face Mali at Kitende next Monday, are joint second with Kenya at a point apiece after match-day one.
Conservative Micho Earns Needed Result
Uganda’s silent target in qualification campaign is to win all home games and avoid defeats on the road.
One gone, five to go.
Micho showed his defensive tactics when he named a defensive minded team on the day – Captain Okwi started as a lone striker while Isaac Muleme was deployed on the left ahead of an attack minded Mustafa Kizza.
The Serbian coach was very animated throughout the game, and his energy paid of at the final whistle.
The team was made to suffer but lived to the billing at the back as they managed to combat flurry of attacks from the Harambee Stars.
Khalid Aucho sat deep, covered more ground and provided the curtain to the defence.
There was an early scare when Halid Lwaliwa was taken off, but his replacement Enock Walusimbi filled the void perfectly when he partnered his Express teammate Juuko in the heart of defence.
Besides the overturned penalty decision, the team barely threatened going forward and Okwi’s replacement Derrick Nsibambi was not fed in the final third.
Substitute Yunus Ssentamu had a late opportunity to win it late but missed a header from Mustafa Kizza’s freekick.
Blunt Kenya Fails To Find Breakthrough
Coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee will feel its two points lost after his side dominated from start.
The side, missing the ever reliable midfielder Victor Wanyama, failed to breach a rock solid Cranes backline.
Olunga, a 2020 J-League top-scorer looked the main threat on the afternoon.
He almost found the opener when he ran at the far post to meet Eric Ouma’s freekick but headed just an inch wide of Charles Lukwago’s goal frame.
Olunga, who currently plays with Al-Duhaili in Qatar, later saw his tap-in blocked by Juuko after a neat cross Masud Juma.
Abdallah Hassan and Eric Johanna had two long range efforts wide.
This is the fourth straight draw from as many meetings between the Cranes and Kenya.
Kenya will look to make amends when they visit Rwanda four days later.
Kenya Harambee Stars – Squad
Ian Otieno (GK), Daniel Sakari, Erick Ouma, Eugene Asike, Joseph Okumu, Richard Odada, Kenneth Muguna, Lawrence Juma, Abdallah Hassan, Masud Juma, Michael Olunga (C)
Substitutes – James Saruni (GK), Joseph Okoth (GK), Erci Johanna, Duke Abuya, Patila Omoto, Harun Shakava, Boniface Muchiri, Jackson Macharia, Frank Odhiambo, Henry Meja, Mohammed Siraj, Bolton Omwenga
Uganda Cranes XI – Charles Lukwago, Denis Iguma, Isaac Muleme, Halid Lwaliwa, Murushid Juuko, Khalid Aucho, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Moses Waiswa, Milton Karisa, Emmanuel Okwi (C), Joseph Ochaya
Substitutes – Ismael Watenga, Joel Mutakubwa, Innocent Wafula, Gavin Kizito Mugweri, Aziz Kayondo, Ibrahim Orit, Richard Basangwa, Steven Desse Mukwala, Derrick Nsibambi, Yunus Sentamu, Mustapha Kizza, Enock Walusimbi.