Away goal rule knocks out fighting Junior Harambee Stars

By alex wafula
May 09, 2015
  • Harambee Stars U23 players appreciate their fans after the 4-1 win over Botswana at the Nyayo National Stadium.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Kenya Micheal Olunga against Botswana's Moshi Gaolaolwe.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Kenya Jackson Macharia in action against Botswana's Lebogang Ditsele.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

It was a result that left Bobby Williamson, the Harambee Stars Coach red faced, the players head in hands buried on the Nyayo Stadium turf disbelieving just how quickly luck can walk out of the door.

They only needed one goal with six minutes of added time to book a date with Zambia in the second round, but a packed Tswana defence prevented any more goals streaming in.

Despite Michael Olunga scoring a hatrick, Kenya’s dream of making it into the second round of the African U23 Championships which will also double up as Olympic Qualifiers in Senegal at the end of the year vanished like morning dew. So near yet so far.

That is the summary of how Kenya’s dream collapsed.

Despite Bobby Williamson picking up his first ever win as national team coach with a 4-1 result against Botswana, the Harambee Stars Under-23 side bowed out of the qualifiers on the away goal rule having lost 3-0 in Botswana a fortnight ago.

“I am proud of the boys and the fight they put in but I feel if we had prepared better, we should have won this match. We went to Botswana on match day and lost massively. Look at how well these boys played today. We only missed by a whisker and what if we had prepared well for Botswana?”

“It is a positive result I pick up moving forward and now we shift our attention to the CHAN qualifier against Ethiopia and definitely a good number of these players will be in that team,” Williamson added.

Olunga's brace

The home side started just as they yearned to, Olunga who had been flown in to Nairobi after helping his club Gor Mahia pick a 1-0 win in Awendo against Sony in midweek finding the back of the net with a sweet volley on his favourite left foot past Botswana keeper Goitseone Phoko.

Kariobangi Sharks midfielder Vincent Odongo had picked up Olunga inside the area with the 19-year old using his physique and strength to shield the ball and slot past Phoko.

Kenya had started the match with attacking motivation from the first minute knowing too well they needed four clear goals to advance. But as they had thrown bodies upfront in search of a goal, a defensive lapse in the 24th minute, just three after Olunga’s goal gifted Botswana the lifeline.

Kebtaho Omaatla beat off two central defenders Robinson Kamura and Vincent Omumbo to slot in past Ian Otieno in the Kenya goal.

The deficit now increased and it meant Kenya had to win by scoring four more goals to advance. But the work was half reduced after 43 minutes when Omaatla who had proved to be a menace with his physique limped off injured after pulling a hamstring.

The boys gave in a shift searching for at least two before the breather to ease the burden in the second period. With the urge to get in the goals, balls were sent in fast and furious into the Botswana 18 yard area, with Olunga being able to use his body to win and spread the ball to his team mates.

Olunga got his second in the 37th minute with a right foot finish from Collins Shivachi’s low cross aided by Jackson Macharia’s dummy.

The Tswana side protested the goal as the Kenyans continued with play even with one of them down injured. However, the home side had played on as it had now become a routine for the Botswana lads to go on the ground for long with any slightest touch in a bid to run down the clock.

With the team’s resuming the second half Kenya 2-1 up, the home lads had to quickly get into business knowing they had 45 minutes to score three goals.

Vincent Odongo thought he had cut out the deficit in the 54th minute but the referee disallowed his goal for offside.

Charged by a handful of fans who had come to the Nyayo Stadium to show support, Kenya pushed harder as the clock ticked with John Ndirangu coming in for John Nairuka while David King’atua came in for Vincent Odongo who had just missed a sitter at the edge of the six yard box.

Next, CHAN qualifiers against Ethiopia

Ndirangu gave Kenya hope with a 75th minute cracker, a dipping shot past Phoko from the edge of the box after picking up Macharia’s pass. Olunga completed his brace in the 90th minute with a header from a yard out after keeper Phoko had spilled a long ball from his Kenyan opposite number Ian Otieno who had lobbed the ball forward from his own box.

With six minutes added to the clock, Kenya planted more balls inside the Tswana half but with Coach Paul Ketumetse instructing all his players back, there was no way through for Williamson’s charges.

Williamson brought off central defender Omumbo for Harrison Mwenda in a clear search for goals, but the Mathare winger was unfortunate as he had to spend the last three minutes of the match on the turf with a suspected dislocated shoulder after clashing with a Botswana opponent.

“We were unsettled with Kenya playing more direct football dropping long balls in teh area. We found this hard to defend and then we lost all second balls. But I am happy that we have progressed, to me that was the most important thing,” Ketumetse said.

Hatrick boy Olunga will have no time to rest as he flew out immediately after the game to Kisumu where his club Gor Mahia plays against Western Stima on Sunday.

Line Ups

Kenya 1. Ian Otieno (GK), 2. Collins Shivachi, 4. David Gateri, 17. Robinson Kamura (c), 5. Vincent Omumbo (9. Harrison Mwendwa), 6. Stephen Wakhanya, 8. Vincent Odongo (10. David Kingatua), 7. Victor Ndinya, 14. Michael Olunga, 16. Jackson Macharia, 18. John Nairuka (11. John Ndirangu) Unused subs: 20. Robert Mboya (GK), 3. Brian Birgen, 15. Hillary Otieno, 12. Luis Tera

Botswana 1. Goitseone Phoko (GK) (c), 4. Mosha Gaolaolwe, 14. Kaone Vanderwesthuizen, 5. Bogosi Kaekwa, 11. Thato Kebue, 6 Lebogang Ditsele, 13. Letlhogonolo Senwelo, 7. Kabelo Seakanyeng, 2. Mpho Kgaswane (17. Gape Mohutsiwa 89’), 10. Karabo Phiri, 18. Omaatla Kebatho (9. Onkabetse Makgantai). Unused subs: 16. Bophelo Kealeboga, 8. Emmanuel Machinya, 15. Thatayaone Ramatlapeng, 12. Obonwe Maome, 3. Kagiso Dithebe.