Harambee Stars held by Burundi in World Cup qualifier

Engin Firat

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat conducts a training session at Kenya Police Stadium on May 21, 2024.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenya now faces an uphill task in their quest to get their World Cup campaign on track.
  • Kenya will face a bigger test on Tuesday when they host African champions Cote d’Ivoire.

Kenya dropped two crucial points after being held to a 1-1 draw by Burundi in a 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier on Friday evening at Bingu National Stadium in Malawi.

Second half substitute Duke Abuya gave Harambee Stars the lead in the 72nd minute after being picked out by Gor Mahia midfielder Austin Odhiambo.

The duo had come on in the 64th minute for Timothy Ouma and winger Clifton Miheso respectively.

However, a costly defensive mistake by Daniel Anyembe in the 85th minute saw Burundi level the scores via second half substitute Sudi Abdallah.

Following the result, Kenya remains third in Group 'F' with four points from three matches, same as Burundi.

African champions Cote d’Ivoire and Gabon, who were due to clash later on Friday evening, are joint leaders with six points each.

World Cup campaign

Gambia and Seychelles, who will clash on Saturday, are bottom of the group with no points.

Kenya now faces an uphill task in their quest to get their World Cup campaign on track.

Harambee Stars will face a bigger test on Tuesday when they host Cote d’Ivoire at the same venue. 

Kenya hosted the game in Malawi since Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani and Nyayo National Stadium are currently under renovation.

The 60,000-seater Kasarani Stadium is undergoing refurbishment for the 2027 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) which Kenya will co-host with Uganda and Tanzania.

Nyayo Stadium, with a capacity of 30,000, will host the African Nations Championship (Chan) in September.

Missed opportunities

Harambee Stars started the game against Burundi well but wasted clear goal-scoring opportunities in the first half.

On the other end of the pitch, Kenyan custodian Patrick Matasi remained untroubled by the Burundians who largely employed a defensive strategy.

Early in the second half, Burundi were unlucky not to have gone ahead after Bienvenu Kanakimana raced past Rooney Onyango but his effort hit the post with Matasi well beaten.

In the 64th minute, Burundian goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana tipped over Timothy Ouma's goal-bound effort.

That was the last action by the IF Elfsborg midfielder before coach Engin Firat replaced him with Abuya while Odhiambo came on for Cliftone Miheso.

The two substitutes would then combine well in the 70th minute to give Harambee Stars the lead. However, Burundi denied Kenya what would have been an important win with that late equaliser.