We deserved to win, Kimanzi says after Egypt draw

Saturday, November 16th, 2019 07:35 |

Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi  (pictured) believes the team deserved a win from their opening Group G match against multiple continental champions Egypt in Alexandria on Thursday night.

Stars picked a point from the difficult fixture, tying 1-1 with the highly rated opponents, to boost the team’s morale ahead of their Monday clash against Togo at Kasarani. This was the first time in Kenyan history, that the national team managed to get a point from Egypt while playing away and Kimanzi attributed the feat to proper preparation of the team, prior to the fixture.

 A wasteful Kenyan side that would have easily won the tie, levelled the scores in the 67th minute through striker Michael Olunga after he cancelled out Mahmoud Kahraba’s goal at the Borg El Arab Stadium.

Kimanzi, who has had two previous stints with the team, believes his team played well beyond everyone’s expectations and they deserved to win the away fixture, going by the chances they failed to capitalise on.

“My players did exactly what I asked them to do, play like fighters and take the game to Egypt and it exactly worked out. We took control of the game from the onset, we missed two clear cut chances which should have changed the tide of the game, we were also unlucky to lose our key players [keeper Patrick Matasi] and winger [Ayub Timbe] to injuries in the first half,”  Kimanzi said after the match.

“The exit of the two players forced me to change our game plan again and it really worked against us. However, we still managed to push them hard and even in the second half, we were on top of our game.

“And if you look at the goal we conceded, it was our own mistake we never deserved to give away a goal like that but our goal was well crafted and we had two or three more chances to kill off the game in the closing stages but maybe luck was not on our side.

“I will take a draw because we were playing against a tough side but I still believe Kenya deserved to win the game. We did everything any team could have done to get a win away and I congratulate my players for the efforts they put up.”

Togo, who were expected in the country Saturday, launched their campaign on a sour note after losing at home to Comoro Islands, who are now topping the group with three points.

Reigning champions Algeria, who edged Senegal 1-0 in July to win the Cup of Nations a second time, finished strongly to humiliate 2012 champions Zambia 5-0 in Blida.

The surprisingly easy Group H victory extended the unbeaten run of the Desert Foxes to 17 matches since losing away to Benin last October.

Baghdad Bounedjah, whose second-minute goal won the 2019 final in Cairo, scored twice, with his first from a 68th-minute penalty giving Algeria a two-goal advantage.

Youcef Belaili, El Arbi Soudani and Bounedjah again netted during the final 15 minutes as the resistance of the Chipolopolo collapsed.

This was the widest winning margin of the 18 matchday one qualifiers played so far, surpassing the 4-0 hiding Sudan dished out to 10-man Sao Tome e Principe in Omdurman 24 hours earlier.

Ghana were impressive 2-0 Group C winners over South Africa in a Cape Coast showdown between former champions longing for a return of the good old days.

It is 37 years since the Black Stars won the last of four Cup of Nations titles while the lone Bafana Bafana triumph came 23 years ago.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey thrilled a capacity crowd by scoring nine minutes before half-time and Kudus celebrated his first cap by netting on 80 minutes.

Aubameyang, who has scored eight Premier League goals this season, was held goalless in Kinshasa, but will have been thrilled after Gabon forced a 0-0 Group D draw with DR Congo.

Gabon have bitter memories of recent Cup of Nations campaigns failing to get past the first round as 2017 hosts and not even qualifying for an expanded 24-team 2019 tournament.

Mali led twice only to be pegged back each time by Guinea in a Group A encounter that burst into life when Adama Traore Noss gave the home team a 56th-minute lead.

The Bamako crowd were then enraptured as Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita equalised, Sekou Koita put Mali ahead a second time and Sekou Conde scored to earn Guinea a point.

Comoros, who lost a 2022 World Cup qualifier in Togo two months ago, gained revenge with a 1-0 Group G victory in Lome thanks to a Faiz Selemani goal.                       

More on Football