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January 18, 2019

Harambee Stars get Sh2.5 million

Harambee stars Whyvone Isuza,  challenges vs Swaziland Orosco Fenandes  during itenrnational friendly at Kenyatta stadium in machakos on may 25,2018.  
Harambee stars Whyvone Isuza, challenges vs Swaziland Orosco Fenandes during itenrnational friendly at Kenyatta stadium in machakos on may 25,2018. / OLIVER MORGAN

The Kenya national football team are due to arrive back this morning afetr they lost 2-0 to India to finish second in the 2018 Hero Intercontinental Cup on Sunday, at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Stars’ pocketed Sh2.5 million (US$25000) for finishing second. Stars went down 2-0 against the hosts in the final at the Mumbai Sports Arena on Sunday, thanks to a brace from Indian captain Sunil Chhetri.

The skipper connected from youngster Anirudh Thapa’s free-kick barely eight minutes into the match. From the set piece, Thapa sent the delivery horizontally for Chhetri, who easily slotted it past Patrick Matasi between the sticks after coming back off the line in a well rehearsed training ground move.

In the 24th minute, Chhetri came close to finding the second goal as he combined with Jeje Lalpekhlua and Anirudh Thapa inside the box. From a quick throw-in, Chhetri found Jeje on the left and the Chennaiyin man found his teammate Thapa, but before Chhetri could pull the trigger, Michael Kibwage cleared the danger.

Chhetri, who recently made a century of appearances for India, eventually found the goal in the 29th minute to double India’s lead.

Minutes before the break, India had the chance to make it three when they were awarded a free-kick from a lethal position. Stepping up for the free-kick, Chhetri, however, sent the ball over the crossbar.

The second-half started off with Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu showcasing his skills as he pulled off a stunning save in the 48th minute. Kenya’s Ovella Ochieng released a shot from inside the box which saw Sandhu diving to his right to deny Kenya a way back into the tie.  

A double substitution from Stephen Constantine at the hour mark saw a change in tactics as India shifted to a five-man midfield with Rowllin Borges and Balwant Singh replacing Holicharan Narzary and Jeje Lalpekhlua.

Kenya looked better on the attack in the second half and in the 68th minute, John Makwata connected with a cross delivered by Erick Ouma. However, his attempt went awfully wide due to a poor first touch.

Seven minutes later, Kenya were handed a free-kick at the edge of the box. Ovella  then aimed for the top right corner but goalkeeper Gurpreet crushed his hopes by palming it away with a dive to his left.

Gurpreet stole much of the limelight of the latter half with his saves which kept India’s lead intact. At the final whistle, the Blue Tigers got the better of Harambee Stars to clinch the championship.

Stars won two matches in the four-nation tournament, against New Zealand (2-1) and Chinese Taipei (4-0), with the matches aimed at getting the team in shape for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Kenya are  set to face Ghana in September this year with Ethiopia also in line for the Stars in October.

Harambee Stars Starting XI:  Patrick Matasi (GK), Mike Kibwage, Bernard Ochieng, Musa Mohamed, Jockins Atudo, Dennis Odhiambo, Patilah Omotto, Kenneth Muguna, Eric Ouma, Ovella Ochieng, Pistone Mutamba; Substitutes: Timothy Odhiambo (GK), Bolton Omwenga, Johnstone Omurwa, Chrispin Oduor, Vincent Wasambo, Clifton Miheso, Timothy Otieno and John Mark Makwatta.

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