Harambee Stars defender Eugine Asike reacts to an injury during their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifier Group E match against Uganda Cranes at Nyayo national stadium on September 02, 2021. [Stafford Ondego,Standard]

Harambee Stars’ Fifa World Cup qualification campaign got off to a stuttering start after drawing in their first two matches played last week.

Stars drew against neighbours Uganda and Rwanda in the Group “E” qualifiers. The other team in the group is Mali.

The draws leave Harambee Stars second on the log with two points ahead of the four remaining games to be played next month and November.

Stars played out a barren draw against Uganda Cranes on Thursday in Nairobi before the Michael Olunga captained side was held to a 1-1 draw by Rwanda in Kigali on Sunday.

Coincidentally, Kenya also drew in their opening two 2021 African Cup of Nations fixtures against Egypt and Togo, which came back to haunt them later as they failed to qualify for the continental showpiece. Will the two draws prove costly for Kenya once again in the World Cup qualifiers?

This being the third round of qualifiers, only group winners advance to the final stage of qualification, meaning Kenya’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup hang in the balance.

Kenya were left hoping for a favourable result in yesterday’s match between Mali and Uganda. Both teams drew 0-0 in the highly-charged match.

Kenya cannot afford any more slip-ups if they still harbour hopes of advancing to the playoff stage but coach Jacob Mulee believes the national team is in the race as they chase a ticket to the global event.

“I believe the result was fair for both sides especially coming on the back of not winning our opening matches. Picking a point in Rwanda is tight but we are still in the race. We have only played two games and I believe the next match against Mali will determine our fate,” he said.

“Two points from two games is not so bad despite our wish of having four points but we still have a chance especially against Mali, whom we will play on back to back basis next month.”

Speaking after the Rwanda game on Sunday, Mulee praised his team for an improved show saying their focus turns to group leaders Mali.

“It was a good game. Rwanda is a very good side if you saw the way they played with a lot of pace,” said Mulee.

“After scoring the opening goal, I think we lost concentration but I can’t blame the players because they also created a lot of chances mostly our captain Olunga, who despite scoring a goal had the opportunity to win the match for us.”

“We were not clinical enough and did not utilise our chances in the game which I blame in the draw.”

Harambee Stars’ next match will be away to Mali on October 6, before hosting the West African giants four days later.

Kenya’s last matches of the group are away to Uganda on November 11 and at home to Rwanda on November 15.

 

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