Mandela header rescues draw for Kenya’s second string team against Sudan

By alex wafula
May 31, 2016
  • Sudan Ibrahim Salma shields the ball from Kenya's Joseph Okumu. The match ended 1-1.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

With virtually the last touch of the game, Brian Mandela towered over the Sudanese defense to score the equalizer as Harambee Stars played to a one-all draw with the Falcons of Jediane in a friendly match played at the Kasarani stadium.

Sudan fielded a full strength squad which coach Mohammed Abdallah intends to field this weekend when they play Sierra Leone in a crucial African cup of nations qualifier. T

hey opened the scores in the 24th minute through Nazar Hamid and were headed for a win until Mandela’s header.

Mandela skippered a totally new side from the one that played against Tanzania.

Under-20 players Erick Marcelo Ouma of Gor Mahia and his Chemelil Sugar counterpart Joseph Okumbi being handed first team debuts in defense.

Okumbi also handed his first ever start to Spanish based defensive midfielder Ismail Athman Gonzalez when he came into the match in the second half for Posta Rangers midfielder Joseph Mbugi.

Okumbi impressed with Gonzalez 

“He was marvelous today and played really well. I didn’t expect him to play that way because in training he didn’t really show much but when he came into the match today he really showed class. I think he is the future of the team in that position,” Okumbi said after the match.

In the first half, Stars never showed as much and they were kept in the chasing game by Sudan.

Okumbi’s midfield pairing of Mbugi and KCB’s Tyrus Omondi backfired as they lacked the needed chemistry to drive the team.

Ramadan Agab had the first effort for the Sudanese with a shot from distance that however never troubled David Okello in the Kenyan goal in the seventh minute.

Kenya’s midfield frailties came to show in the 22nd minute when Omondi lost the ball in a dangerous position but luckily for him Ibrahim Salah’s effort of chipping the ball over David Okello in the Kenya goal was futile.

Two minutes later, Omondi’s midfield partner Mbugi lost the ball again and it proved costly this time round. Hamid picked up the ball and drove into space before shooting low to beat Okello.

After 33 minutes, Okumbi’s patience with the dysfunctional midfield faded off after 33 minutes and he signaled Francis Kahata to come on, taking off Omondi.

Sudan still pressed the gas pedal on Kenya and Okello was called into a superb 38th minute save to keep away a fierce shot from Mohammed Tahir.

Five minutes to the breather, Stars had a chance on the break, Paul Were releasing Ovella Ochieng on the left but the Kariobangi Sharks’ attempt on goal was blocked at the edge of the box.

Kenya plays Congo on Sunday

Okumbi made changes at the start of the second half, bringing in Gonzalez for Mbugi while Clifton Miheso and Jesse Were came in for Ovella and Wycliffe Ochomo respectively.

Kenya’s forward play improved with the introduction of the three. Ali Abondo had an effort after being teed up by Jesse Were in the 61st minute but his effort on the half volley went wide.

Were who has been in impressive form for his Zambian club Zesco United was presented with a glorious opportunity in the 67th minute when Abondo toe-poked the ball in his path but he shot over.

Stars continued to press in search of the equalizer and a possible winner and new man Gonzalez had an effort in the 75th minute with a bouncing header from an Abondo freekick being well picked up by the Sudanese keeper.

Left back Ouma who had a superb game both offensively and defensively in his senior team debut went close with a 78th minute freekick that was well saved by the Sudan keeper.

The home side was reduced to ten men in the 88th minute after Francis Kahata picked his second yellow card of the evening. With the whistle on the referee’s mouth to finish the game, Mandela rose high inside the box to nod home a corner from Ali Abondo as Stars managed to save face.

“It was a tough match for us but I am grateful for Kenyan FA for giving us this chance to play. We are preparing for a tough match against Sierra Leone in the African cup of nations qualifiers and this match gives us good preparation for it,” Mohamed Abdallah, the Sudan coach said after the game.

Kenya now return to training for the final preparation ahead of the non-consequential AFCON qualifier against Congo next Sunday in Nairobi.