Late comeback denies Harambee Stars victory over Russia

Late comeback denies Harambee Stars victory over Russia
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The Harambee Stars of Kenya took on Russia in an international friendly to fine-tune their side ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

The Harambee Stars played a 2-2 draw with Russia in a first meeting, with the Russians needing a late comeback to tie the game.

Goals from Teddy Akumu (16′), and Masoud Juma (36′) for Kenya and Aleksandr Sobolev (8′), Ivan Oblyakov (89′) for Russia saw to a thrilling affair.

The Harambee Stars failed to make AFCON 2023 due to an indefinite ban on the federation following government interference in the affairs of the country's football.

FIFA lifted the ban on the FKF in November 2022, allowing the Harambee Stars to participate in the World Cup qualifiers.

Perhaps the Kenyan national team is rusty from the long layoff, and good tune-up matches will serve them well. 

Harambee Stars score twice to take a first-half lead

Harambee stars lineup against Russia
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The Kenya vs Russia game featured two countries who have come under FIFA and their respective continental federation cosh.

The Sbornaya are out of international football due to the Russia/Ukraine war. The arrangement was befitting for both sides. 

There was no sign of rustiness from both sides as they raced out of the blocks. 

Russia was the first to show its hand. The Sbornaya found the mark in the 8th minute through Aleksandr Sobolev.

Sobolev collected a pass from Maksim Mukhin in the box before putting it right-footed beyond the reach of Odhiambo.

It was an end-to-end affair to the delight of the fans, but tragedy struck for the Harambee Stars.

In the 14th minute, goalkeeper Byrne Odhiambo left the pitch due to injury, with Patrick Matasi as his replacement.

Harambee Stars were back on level terms two minutes after Odhiambo left the pitch. Anthony Akumu scored the equalizer for Kenya.

Russia also had their taste of injury in the 29th minute, with Daniil Fomin the victim and Daler Kuzyae his replacement.

With the first half of an entertaining game drawing to its close, the Harambee Stars stole the lead through Masoud Juma in the 36th minute.

Russia gave as much as they received, but their efforts did not yield dividends as the first half ended 2-1.

Oblyakov goal denies Kenya a win

Aleksei Miranchuk enjoying the applause against Harambee Stars
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The Harambee Stars started the second half with a zing in their step. They could have gotten a third goal six minutes into the second half.

They hit the Sbornaya with a fast break, but Michael Olunga missed by inches.

Russia continued to press the Kenyan side but found no joy in their defence. A 56th-minute chance for Russia was saved by Patrick Matasi.

Consistent pressure from the Russians produced free kicks and corner kicks, but the Kenyan defence continued to hold.

The pressure from the Sbornaya ensured Russia had the better possession but could not turn it into goals, with the Harambee Stars resorting to fouls to stop their flow. 

They had 67% of the ball to Kenya's 33.

The Harambee Stars made the first substitution of the second half, with Engin Firat replacing goal scorer Masoud Juma with Ayub Masika.

Russia responded in the 67th minute with a triple substitution. Ivan Sergeev, Danil Glebov and Sergey Pinyaev came on for Anton Miranchuk, Dmitri Barinov and Aleksandr Sobolev.

The Russian pressure eventually told, and the Kenyan defence caved in.

 Ivan Oblyakov got the equalizer in the 89th minute off an assist from Aleksandr Siljanov.

The Russians were not satiated with the equalizer and kept pushing for the winning goal, but desperate defending kept them at bay.

The Harambee Stars held on for a share of the spoils.

Lineup

Kenya:

Byrne Odhiambo, Amos Nondi, Stanley Okumu, Johnstone Omurwa, Erick Ouma, Richard Odada, Anthony Okumu, Kenneth Muguna, Rooney Onyango, Masud Juma, Michael Olunga

Subs:

Patrick Matasi, Brian Bwire, Brian Mandela, Collins Sichenje, Daniel Sakari, Vincent Harper, Alpha Onyango, Ayub Timbe, Ovella Ochieng, Alfred Scriven, Cliffton Miheso, Moses Shummah

Russia:

Ilya Pomazun, Georgi Dzhikiya, Roman Evgeniev, Yuri Gorshkov, Arsen Adamov, Dmitri Barinov, Daniil Fomin, Maksim Mukhin, Aleksandr Sobolev, Anton Miranchuk, Aleksei Miranchuk

Subs:

Sergey Volkov, Sergei Pinyaev, Matvei Safonov, Artem Makarchuk, Ivan Oblyakov, Aleksandr Silyanov, Ivan Sergeev, Evgeny Kharin, Fedor Chalov, Ilya Lantratov, Aleksandr Soldatenkov, Danil Glebov, Daler Kuzyaev

This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).