FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers: Harambee Stars held to disappointing draw by minnows Burundi


FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers: Harambee Stars held to disappointing draw by minnows Burundi

Festus Chuma 17:59 - 07.06.2024

Harambee Stars faced Burundi in a tense World Cup qualifier, displaying moments of dominance but ultimately sharing the spoils.

Harambee Stars were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by minnows Burundi in their third 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group F match, played at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi.

In what was an uninspiring match, Burundi walked away the happier side as they recorded their maiden win against Kenya in the past 12 years.

Despite the absence of the injured Joseph Okumu and Masoud Juma Harambee Stars dominated the game and showed depth in defence and attacking department.

Stars coach Engin Firat handed a debut to  IF Elfsborg youngster Timothy Ouma and returned of Cliffton Miheso of AFC Leopards after a long period.

The duo formed a great partnership as they led the line upfront but their ball deliveries could not hit the target.

The two players troubled Burundi in both attacks alongside Michael Olunga helping in creating chances and were awesome when it came to defense, interchanging positions beautifully.

Harambee Stars were the first to threaten with Richard Odada and Timothy Ouma coming close in quick succession.

First, Odada saw his long range shot go wide before a close attempt by Ouma narrowly missed the target in the 12th and 17th minutes respectively.

Burundi then showed their intent with their own raids as they showed they had not come to sit back and rely on counter attacks.

The match became a ding dong affair thereafter with both sides manufacturing gilt edged chances.

Michael Olunga made a maze run from his area but was foiled when he was about to pull the trigger in a period in which Harambee Stars applied sustained pressure.

Antony Okumu had a chance soon after but his effort lacked power after being set up by Clifton Miheso as the home team maintained pressure.

In the 37th minute, Olunga rifled home a screamer of a shot but missed the target by inches with the visitors’ keeper well beaten.

Ouma had a shot saved by Nahimana and Burundi replied immediately with a quick counter attack which failed to yield the desired results.

Harambee started like a house on fire in the second half and created the first clear opportunity seconds after the restart.

Timothy Ouma then came close on the 49th minute but his rasping shot narrowly missed the target.

Burundi nearly took the lead in the 51st minute with a superb display of skill down the right flank.

After weaving through the defense, a sharp cross found its way into the box, leaving Aboud in the dust.

The striker took his shot, beating goalkeeper Matasi all ends up, but the post intervened, sparing the Kenyan team from falling behind.

Kenya took the lead in the 71st minute after second-half substitute Austin Odhiambo launched an attack from the left.

The Gor Mahia's attacking midfielder passed the ball to Duke Abuya whose stinging shot was initially blocked but he swiftly followed up with a rebound, giving Ndikumana no chance to react.

Despite taking the lead, Kenya continued to ask questions and Olunga had a clear chance in the 73rd minute but somehow shot over the bar.

Burundi found an equalizer in the 85th minute after a costly blunder and miscommunication in Kenya's defense.

Daniel Anyembe lost possession in the penalty area, and Burundi swiftly capitalized on the mistake as Sudi Abdallah seized the opportunity, coolly placing the ball past goalkeeper Matasi to level the score.

On the sidelines, head coach Firat made a substitution, replacing Austin Odhiambo with Benson Omalla in a decision that did not sit well with the attacking midfielder who had assisted in the earlier goal.

Despite their persistent efforts, the team failed to secure the winning goal and remained in third place in Group F, accumulating four points from three matches.

Next, the Stars will face a more challenging opponent as they prepare to go against Ivory Coast on Tuesday at the same venue.

How they lined up:

Harambee Stars : Patrick Matasi, Rooney Onyango, Daniel Anyembe, Johnstone Omurwa, Aboud Omar, Anthony Akumu, Richard Odada, Timothy Ouma, Clifton Miheso, Kenneth Muguna,Michael Olunga

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