Kone crashes Harambee Stars' World Cup dream

Mali's forward Ibrahima Kone vies for the ball with Kenya's defender Eric Ouma

Mali's forward Ibrahima Kone (left) vies for the ball with Kenya's defender Eric Ouma during their Fifa World Cup Group "E" qualifying match at Nyayo National Stadium on October 10, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kone picked from where he left from last Thursday in Agadir, Morocco where he scored three in the 5-0 win over Kenya
  • And after Kenya dominated the first half of the return leg, it's Kone who banged in the winner for Mali who remain top with 10 points
  • Uganda, who beat Rwanda 1-0 in Kampala, are second with eight points and will challenge leaders Mali for a place in the next qualifying round

Mali's forward Ibrahima Kone Sunday struck in the 55th minute to effectively end Kenya's 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi. 

Kone picked from where he left from last Thursday in Agadir, Morocco where he scored three in the 5-0 win over Kenya. 

And after Kenya dominated the first half of the return leg, it's Kone who banged in the winner for Mali who remain top with 10 points. 

Uganda, who beat Rwanda 1-0 in Kampala, are second with eight points and will challenge leaders Mali for a place in the next qualifying round. Only group winners proceed to the final qualifying round. 

Rwanda and Kenya, who are on two points and a point respectively, are out of the qualifiers with two matches left to play. 

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat made four changes to his starting line-up from the one that lost 5-0 in Morocco last Thursday.

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat

Harambee Stars Turkish coach Engin Firat issues instructions from the touchline during their Fifa World Cup Group "E" qualifying match against Mali at Nyayo National Stadium on October 10, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Boniface Muchiri and Abdallah Hassan, who came as substitutes in Morocco, were given a starting role on the left and right flanks of attack respectively while Duke Abuya started behind lead striker Michael Olunga. Brian Bwire replaced Ian Otieno in goal. 

Stars had the first real chance on eight minutes when Hassan latched on a long pass on the right, finding Michael Olunga in the box who then squared the ball to Abuya but his rising powerful shot was parried wide for a fruitless corner-kick by Mali's goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro. 

The hosts then pinned Mali in their half, Olunga's header three minutes later missing the target.

Moussa Djennepo then fouled the speedy Hassan on the right, Aboud Omar directing his powerful shot from the resultant freekick into the waiting hands of goalkeeper Mounkoro. 

With their every move forward, Stars received cheers from a handful of supporters who were allowed in the stadium to watch the match.

An on-rushing Muchiri wasted Stars best chance of taking the lead on 21 minutes when he failed to beat Mounkoro from a one-on-one situation after Olunga laid the ball in his path.

Kenya wasted another glorious opportunity in the 30th minute after Hassan, who profited from Charles Traore howler on the right, failed to find the target from a tight angle after dribbling into the box. 

The visitors almost took the lead against the run of play at the stroke of half-time but Fofana Mamadou's effort from Hamari Traore's freekick came off the bar and Bwire reacted fast to avert danger. It was Mali's first chance of the game. 

Stars picked from where they left at the break, Hassan missing a tap-in on the line after Olunga turned well inside the box and crossed the ball to him.

Four minutes after the restart, Adama Traore tested Bwire with a freekick from the right, before Muchiri forced Mounkoro to a brilliant save on the other end. 

Mali took the lead 11 minutes into the second half thanks to Ibrahim Kone's first-time finish following woeful defending by Stars.

Mali made the first change in the match on 68 minutes, El Bilal Toure replacing scorer Kone who limped off, while Amadou Haidara came in for Boubakar Kouyate. 

Stars responded in the 72th minute with the introduction of Erick Kapaito and Henry Meja for Abuya and Muchiri respectively.

Richard Odada who was impressive in the midfield thought he had won Kenya a penalty in 81st minute after a Mali player handled while blocking his shot but the match officials ruled otherwise. 

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