Who will win the 2009 KPL title?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kenya beat Mozambique to rekindle 2010 Angola hopes

Harambee Stars finally clinched their first win in the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign when they humbled Mozambique’s Mamba’s 2-1 in an evenly balanced match at Moi Sports Centre Kasarani, in Nairobi.

The Stars scored in the 7th minute through Julius Owino’s harmless looking shot, but the Mambas equalised in the first minutes of the second half when Domingues benefited from a Stars defensive mistake. But, in the in the 72nd minute, Mariga was brought down in the box and the Parma man converted the eventual spot kick and earned his side a hard fought win.

First Half

The game started slowly, with each side trying to study the other and get a feel for the encounter. In the 7th minute, Robert Mambo passed the ball to MacDonald Mariga in the centre. The Parma midfielder turned and saw Julius Owino running on the right flank.The right-back ran towards the eighteen yard area and crossed towards Oliech, who had rushed to the goal mouth, but the ball was headed in with Kapango fumbling the loose ball, thus giving Harambee Stars their first goal of the match.

Two minutes later, Oliech missed a header from Oboya’s cross and the lethal striker was instead adjudged to have handled the ball.

Mozambique striker and skipper Tico Tico drew the first blood in the 12th minute when Domingues' pass found him with only George Owino to beat. But his fickle shot was easily picked up by Arnold Origi.

The game pace slowed and in the 15th minute, Harambee Stars strung a twenty one touch passing movement, starting in the defence and advancing forward but ending when Patrick Oboya was fouled in the eighteen yard area.

From the free-kick, Mariga found Owino who headed skyward. Two minutes later Mozambique 'keeper Kapango bungled a back pass when challenged by Oliech. Oboya collected the ball but his shot was saved by the keeper.

In the 19th minute, Kapango made a fuss when he was replaced by Marcellino. Instead of heading to the touchline, he went to the perimeter fence, seemingly inconsolable.

Mozambique then upped the pressure with Harambee Stars midfield looking out of place. Domingues' shot after 29 minutes went straight to the goalkeeper. Later, Pascal Ochieng almost messed up when challenged by Domingues and headed out as Origi was also advancing to take the ball. The corner was fruitless. Robert Mambo missed a free header from Njoroge pass in the 34 minute but headed up.

Mozambique got a free kick in the 36 minute but Montero hit the wall, before Tico Tico's shot was fired off target. The first half ended with the Harambee Stars under pressure.

Second Half

Oliech was replaced by Allan Wanga and the Angolan-based striker almost scored with the first touch, but shot skyward with only the keeper to beat from close range. Four minutes later, there was a goalmouth melee at the Stars' end when Origi mishandled a cross from the left and Domingues scored from three yards.

Two minutes later, Tico Tico collided with Origi and the striker was taken off. In the 57th minute Oboya was replaced by Victor Mugabe and the fans voiced their displeasure. Harambee Stars upped the pressure and Njoroge ran goal wards and chipped for Otieno, who headed over. In the 70th minute Mambo was picked out in the penalty area and his header went in but was disallowed for an offside.

In the 72nd minute, Mariga was brought down in the box and converted the spot kick, sending the stadium wild.

Mozambique's Eugnio was replaced in the 80th minute by Josima. With five minutes remaining, the Mambas put the Stars under pressure and almost equalised with only three minutes remaining when Josima shot at goal, but the ball went a few inches over the bar.

With two minutes remaining,U.K born Taiwo Otieno, now laying his club soccer for the Rochester Rhinos in the US League 1 came on to make his debut. In the last minute, the Mambas almost drew level but Dario’s shot was fired over the bar.

The game ended and Harambee Stars were happy to have registered a narrow win, earning Antoine Hey his first victory in a competitive match and allowing the Kenyan fans a huge sigh of relief.

Kenya: Arnold Origi, Musa Otieno, Pascal Ochieng’, George Owino, Julius Owino, John Njoroge, MacDonald Mariga, Austin Makacha, Robert Mambo, Patrick Oboya, Dennis Oliech.

Mozambique: Kapango, Simao, Paito, Pelembe Fanuel, Dario Khan, Kampira Samuel, Hagi, Momtaro, Domingues, Dario, Tico Tico.

Courtesy of James Momanyi, Goal.com

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kenya holds its breath as Stars face Mambas

By Charles Nyende

Kenya’s Harambee Stars, same as 17 years ago, are confronted by an ambitious Mambas of Mozambique in Nairobi on Saturday in a must win fixture at Moi International Sports Centre.

Needing to win to qualify for their fourth straight Africa Cup of Nations finals, Harambee Stars on July 25, 1993 faced a cocky Mozambique side.

Stars, then under Mohammed Kheri, had pulled off a stunning 1-0 win against Zaire (now DR Congo) in Kinshasa two weeks earlier to tie on points with the central Africans and practically put fate on their own hands.

While Mozambique coach Russian Victor Bondarenko vowed to do to Kenya what they did to Zaire, the home side quietly did their mathematics.

In the end Kenya handsomely won 4-1 at a Nyayo Stadium surface described as “only fit for cows to graze” by Mozambique assistant coach Antonio Caetano.

The huge margin of victory was however not enough after Zaire blanked Lesotho 7-0 to clinch the single qualifier berth on goal difference.

Fast forward to 2009. Mozambique have said their minimum objective is to qualify for the African Nations Cup and they have targeted six points from Kenya.

Respect every opponent

The team has been quietly preparing in Addis Ababa under Dutchman Mart Niioj and after a barren draw with Nigeria in Maputo three months ago where they ran the Africa powerhouses rugged, the Mambas will realistically fancy a result in Nairobi.

But they face a cornered Kenya side fighting for survival in the competition. “This is a do or die match for us. We have to win. There is no otherwise,” defender Pascal Ochieng summed up the thoughts of the Stars squad.

Coach Antoine Hey, winless with Harambee Stars in four consecutive matches, and knowing he is fighting to consolidate his job, said: “Mozambique is definitely a decent side. We are respecting every opponent, but Kenya has to win this game by all means. We are ready for it and we will win the game.”

All words, yes, but history steeps this clash in Kenya’s favour. In four encounters between the two nations, Harambee Stars have won twice, lost once with one match ending in a barren.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Origi back in Stars as Taiwo also expected home today

Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno leads his team mates during training at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani, June 15th 2009. Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN

By Sammy Kitula

Arnold Origi will be available for the Mozambique match after all, as Harambee Stars team manager Edward Oduor says Origi, who had left for his Norwegian club Moss FK last week, is expected back home on Tuesday.

“Origi is expected in the country tomorrow (Tuesday) and should join the rest in camp immediately,” said Oduor.

Also expected to join the Stars’ camp on Tuesday is Taiwo Atieno, the US-based British-born striker who earned another call-up to the national following Kenya’s dismal performance in Abuja.

Also making a comeback at the provisional squad are Thomas Wanyama, Hillary Echesa, Crispin Odula and Mike Baraza.

After landing from Nigeria, coach Antoine Hey had said that Taiwo was expected to breathe new life into the poorly performing striking force. It is still unclear, however, if the citizenship issues that locked the striker out of the team before the Tunisia match have been resolved.

Expressed optimism

Stars captain Musa Otieno has meanwhile expressed optimism despite the team’s sudden loss of form in the 2010 World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

But the 36-year-old skipper warned his players that they need to quickly “get back on track” if they are to withstand the challenge of Nigeria, Tunisia and, increasingly, on-form Mozambique.

Stars’ imperious form in the previous round of the qualifiers has been checked in this last stage, which has seen the national side occupy the bottom of Group Two with no point.

And Otieno believes the team cannot afford another slip-up when they take on Mozambique at Kasarani on Saturday.

“We need to bounce back and recover, but we said that after the Tunisia game and we didn’t do that in Nigeria,” Otieno said. “Now there are no more chances for us; we need to make sure we start winning games and get back on a winning run.

“We’ve got a vital game coming up against Black Mambas on Saturday and I don’t think anyone will underestimate the importance of that match. Now that we have had a two-week break, we need to focus and get ourselves back on track.”

Courtesy- Nation Media Group

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