Firat ends tenure with win as Kenya down Rwanda

Michael Olunga

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga (right) celebrates his goal with teammates during their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Rwanda at Nyayo National Stadium on November 15, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Their efforts paid off five minutes after the restart when Oliver Niyonzima punished the home side's poor defending.
  • The absence of Ouma and Akumu continued to be felt as Rwanda were now the brighter side. Rwanda continued to push for the equaliser, but Stars stood their ground to collect maximum points from the match.

Harambee Stars on Monday completed their Group "E" 2022 World Cup qualifiers with a 2-1 victory over the Amavubi of Rwanda at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi.

Captain Michael Olunga and Richard Odada struck Kenya's goals in the first-half of the dead rubber clash for the two teams.

Oliver Niyonzima netted Rwanda's consolation goal in the second-half.

It is Kenya's only victory in the pool, whose other members are Uganda and Mali. Kenya finished third on six points, five above bottom-placed Rwanda. Mali, who advanced to the play-offs, topped the pool on 16 points, as Uganda finished second on nine points.

Richard Odada

Harambee Stars midfielder Richard Odada celebrates after scoring a penalty against Rwanda during their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier at the Nyayo National Stadium on November 15, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Stars coach Engin Firat, in his final game in-charge, dropped under-fire goalkeeper Brian Bwire for James Saruni.

Bwire was guilty of gifting Uganda an equaliser in the dying minutes of last Thursday's 1-1 draw at St Mary's Stadium in Kitende, Uganda.

The match came to life in the third minute when Olunga beat Rwanda's goalkeeper Fiacre Ntwali with a close-range rising shot after connecting with Abdallah Hassan's header.

The goal was Olunga's third in the World Cup qualifiers. Erick "Marcelo" Ouma, who returned to the starting after being sidelined with an injury against Uganda, produced a man-of-the match performance in the first-half, giving Rwanda players a run for their money down the left.

Anthony Akumu

Rwanda's Oliver Niyonzima (right) vies for the ball with Kenya's Anthony Akumu during their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier at the Nyayo National Stadium on November 15, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

He would have assisted Hassan to his first goal of the qualifiers on seven minutes, but the winger headed low to the waiting hands of goalkeeper Ntwali.

Three minutes later, Ouma teed Olunga who tested Ntwali with a powerful, left-footed shot. Stars continued to pile pressure on the visitors and their efforts paying dividends on 13 minutes when Ntwali fouled Ouma inside the box.

Midfielder Richard Odada made no mistake from the spot, stretching Kenya's lead as Rwanda appeared shocked.

Rwanda, who were struggling to get their footing in the match, made a change on 25 minutes, Kennedy Ndanzifura making way for Ernest Sugira.

 Michael Olunga

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga (right) celebrates his goal with teammates during their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Rwanda at Nyayo National Stadium on November 15, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Olunga almost bagged a brace minutes later, but his shot at the goal mouth was cleared to safety by Eric Rutanga.

The impressive Ouma should have put the match beyond Rwanda's reach in the 38th minute, but his shot was cleared by Ntwali.

Rwanda had a chance to reduce the deficit moments later, but Kevin Muhire's free-kick delivery inside Stars' box was timely cleared to safety.

Sugurs then fired wide at the stroke of halftime in what was the visitors' first real chance of the match.

Engin Firat

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat reacts during their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Rwanda at the Nyayo National Stadium on November 15, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Both sides made a change at the restart, Ouma making way for Sammy Onyango, as Rwanda introduced Hakizimana Nuhadjir for Inncocent Nshuti.

The visitors started strongly in the second-half, winning two successive free-kicks on the left, which Stars defenders struggled to clear.

Michael Olunga

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat (left) with skipper Michael Olunga during their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Rwanda at the Nyayo National Stadium on November 15, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Their efforts paid off five minutes after the restart when Oliver Niyonzima punished the home side's poor defending.

The absence of Ouma and Akumu continued to be felt as Rwanda were now the brighter side. Rwanda continued to push for the equaliser, but Stars stood their ground to collect maximum points from the match.

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