Kenya revived her chances of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Nations Cup in Cameroon after an unexpected 1-0 victory over 2017 semi-finalists Ghana in Nairobi on Saturday.
It was the first time that the Harambee Stars had defeated the Black Stars in a competitive fixture, and only their second ever win against the West African giants since a friendly triumph in 2003.
Not only did Kenya, whose last Africa Cup of Nations appearance was in 2004, beat the four-time African champions, but they also did so with 10 men, following the dismissal of defender Joash Onyango just after the hour mark.
The win was achieved despite less-than-stellar preparation, with coach Sebastien Migne having to make do without a litany of key players – including captain Victor Wanyama, who failed to show up due to fitness issues.
Wanyama’s assistant David Owino also picked an injury in training and did not participate, while Ayub Timbe and Brian Mandela were both suspended.
Add to this that the contest was Migne’s first competitive match since his appointment as Paul Put’s replacement in May 2018, and the odds were stacked against Kenya heading in.
However, Kenya still delivered a strong showing and, buoyed by the 20,000-strong fanbase at the Kasarani Stadium, secured a 1-0 triumph following Nicholas Opoku’s 40th-minute own goal.
It was one of the biggest results of the weekend of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, and left supporters hoping for more.
Indeed, this fixture did feel like it could have been the first step towards greater success for the East Africans.
The team that played against Ghana is relatively young, and it’s one that can be moulded and developed for the future.