Kenya’s Harambee Stars efforts of reaching the group stages of the AFCON stage after a 15 years wait hit a snag after they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Algeria on Monday 24 June at the June 30 Stadium in Cairo Egypt.
A penalty slotted home by Qatari league top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah barely after 37 minutes and a perfect finish by Manchester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez five minutes later gave the Desert Foxes a comfortably first half lead.The Dessert Foxes only needed the first half to dim Harambee Stars with Baghdad Bounedjah and captain Riyad Mahrez striking in the final 11 minutes of the opening stanza, taking advantage of Kenya’s disjointed performance.
The goal would spur on the North Africans who doubled their lead nine minutes later through Mahrez’s low struck shot from outside the area that deflected off Aboud Omar.
A more resolute second half would see Kenya contain their opponents but the damage had already been done.
None of Kenya 23-man squad has ever been at this stage and it showed from the opening whistle as the players struggled to string up passes, gave the ball away in dangerous places and committed poor fouls with Aboud Omar and Philemon Otieno picking up early bookings.
It was a tall order for Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne’s who suffered silently with his technical bench after witnessing his inexperience side in attack wjust attempting four shots at goal with none being on target.
Algeria could have scored more goals, the dangerous Bounedjah shooting straight at Kenya goalkeeper Patrick Matasi and Mahrez’s free kick whistling just wide off the slightest of deflections in that lively first half – at least from the point of view of the north Africans.
Algeria’s win sends them to joint top in Group C, tied at 3 points each with Senegal who defeated Tanzania 2-0 on Sunday.
A loss for the Kenyans during their next match against close rivals Tanzania Taifa Stars on Thursday 27th at the same venue would mean their exit at the group stages.
Algeria and Senegal will face off on Thursday looking to claim leadership of the group outright.
The defeat was received with mixed reactions from Kenyan s who watched the match live sending dirty signals on social media accusing the coach for ignoring key players in his line up like David Calabar Owino and Kenya’s local top scorer Allan Wanga.