A hurriedly assembled national Under 23 football team did what they senior compatriots have been unable to do recently by handing Botswana a sound 3-1 drabbing on Thursday evening in an international friendly match at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Thika United striker Cliffton Miheso was the toast of the team, grabbing a second half brace before setting up team captain Paul Mungai Koingera for the final nail in the coffin.
The visitors got off the blocks quickly capitalizing on complacency on the Kenya rearguard to open the score sheet with just 19 minutes on the clock. Center back Eugene Asike mistimed his tackle on Phenyo Mongola who linked up with Pontsho Modloi.
With the Kenyan defense in sixes and sevens, Tebogo Sembowa received the final pass and calmly stubbed the ball home past a fluffing Lucas Indeche between the sticks.
The home team was playing catch up against a more confident Botswana, but the game changer came when coach James Nandwa introduced Enock Agwanda in place of the injured Joseph Kuria towards the end of the first half.
The pace of the stocky Sony Sugar winger had an immediate effect though the scoreline remained unchanged at the break. In game of two halves, Kenya took the fight to the visitors and got back on level terms just three minutes after the restart.
Agwanda delivered a big throw-in from the left side which Botswana goalkeeper Noah Maposa rushed out to meet but got entangled with Mungai, leaving Miheso with the simple task of slotting home the equalizer.
The goal injected some sense of self belief within the Kenyan ranks as the startled Zebras scuttled in a desperate move to stem the tidal waves of attack.
The second goal was almost a carbon copy of the first with Miheso bundling in another big throw-in from Agwanda in the 54th minute.
The Kenyan team was all over Botswana and Agwanda should have put his name on the score sheet in the 62nd minute but was thrice thwarted by Maposa.
However, there was denying Stars the final say which was delivered with much swagger. Two-goal hero, Miheso, got to the end of a long diagonal cross from the right and managed to find Mungai on the edge of the box.
The KCB striker turned his man before delivering an in-swinger from his right foot beating substitute goalkeeper Mompoloki Sephenkolo all the way to bring VIP guest Prime Minister Raila Odinga to his feet.
Botswana coach Stanley Tshosane was magnanimous in defeat blaming his players for failing to give the match the respect it deserved.
The Nandwa-led has had a consistent run posting respectable results against stronger opposition despite rarely training together adequately ahead of major assignments.
Early this year, just days to the kick off the Africa Cup Nations, the team was hurriedly shipped off to the Atlantic coast of West Africa but managed to limit a highly-fancied Senegal side to a 0-1 loss in Dakar before holding Guinea 1-1 in Dakar.
Kenyan squad: Lucas Indeche, Thomas Wanyama, Milton Milimo, David Owino, Eugene Asike, Musa Mohammed (Joseph Mbugi), Joseph Kuria (Enock Agwanda), Paul Mungai Kiongera, Francis Kahata, Cliffton Miheso, Anthony Kimani. James Nandwa (coach), Ken Odhiambo (assistant coach).
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