June 23, 2024

Brave Harambee Stars fall to Gabon in World Cup qualifier opener

Brave Harambee Stars fall to Gabon in World Cup qualifier opener
File Photo

Red Star Belgrade's Guelor Kanga stunning shot gave Gabon a crucial win against Harambee Stars in Stade de Franceville

Harambee Stars conceded a late goal to start their 2026 World Cup qualification campaign on the wrong footing after losing 2-1 to Gabon at the Stade de Franceville on Thursday evening.

Prior to kick off, coach Engin Firat handed the Zambia-based Dennis Ng’ang’a his debut, throwing the left-footed defender at the heart of the defence where he partnered with Johnstone Omurwa.

Ng’ang’a was called late to the team following the unavailability of Joseph Okumu and Brian Mandela who are nursing injuries.

Stars headed for the 15-minute long breather enjoying a 1-0 lead but were unable to contain Gabon who scored twice in the second half to collect maximum points in the opening game.

Masud Juma had given Kenya the lead in the 40th minute after heading a long ball from Amos Nondi from close range.

Juma who was placed at the right place at the opportune time capitalized on an error by the Gabonese goalkeeper who had come off his line to gather the ball but missed it, to head into an empty net.

Gabon came out guns blazing in the second half and would level matters in the 60th minute through Denis Bouanga who had an easy time in tapping in the ball after a poorly headed clearance by Omurwa.

What was supposed to be an easy clearance by Omurwa landed on his shoulder with the ball falling in the path of Bouanga who placed the ball to the farthest low corner, beating Patrick Matasi in the process.

The game appeared headed for a draw but Guelor Kanga had different thoughts as he left fly a shot in the 88th minute that beat Matasi to see his side bag three points.
Stars turn their focus to the second round of the qualifiers against Seychelles on Monday in Ivory Coast.

Table Standing

# Team P W D L F A +/- PTS
1. Ivory Coast 2 2 0 0 11 0 11 6
2. Gabon 2 2 0 0 4 2 2 6
3. Kenya 2 1 0 1 6 2 4 3
4. Burundi 2 1 0 1 4 4 0 3
5. Gambia 2 0 0 2 2 5 -3 0
6. Seychelles 2 0 0 2 0 14 -14 0