By Tione Andsen MANA

Kenya’s Harambee Stars Friday gave away their lead in the 72nd minute when Burundi capitalized in their defence lapse to force a 1-1 in 2026 World Cup Group F qualifiers at Bingu National Stadium in Area 49 in Lilongwe.

Kenya playing at home could have easily punish their visiting Burundians but mother luck was not on their side as they squandered half chances in both halves.

    Although playing away from home, the Burundians enjoyed massive support from Burundians residing at Dzaleka in Dowa and they came in numbers.

    Burundi with their fantastic display of passing game were marvel to watch and they had team leave it late to force a draw on counter attack.

    With the draw, both teams have points from three games and Kenya are third on the log while Burundi are fourth while Gambia and Seychelles are yet to register a point in the qualifiers.

    Group F is being led by Ivory Coast with six points followed by Gambia with the same points margin but they have played two games each.

    Ivory Coast is playing host to Gambia late on Friday evening and the Ivoirians will travel to Malawi to face Kenya on Tuesday next week.

    The First 10 minutes of the game, Burundi had an upper hand piling pressure towards Kenya’s territory through massive counter attacks from the wings.

    Kenya mounted an attack after 12 minutes where their captain, Olunga Ogada shot was parried away by in-form Burundian keeper, Jonathan Nahimana and 14 minutes later, Ogada had another chance by the keeper fumbled his powerful shot.

    Kenya’s winger, Miheso Ayisi put through Mugambi Muguna but his long range drive was craftily saved by top notch keeper, Nahimana.

    The two teams were deadlocked 0-0 at half time and Burundian keeper was on top of his game with his exciting saves.

    At the start of the second half, Burundi made a double substitution they brought in Aladin Msanga and Amissi Mohamed for Abedi Bigirimana and Baininwa Liongola.

    Burundi came closest from scoring after 51 minutes when Bienvenu Kanakimana had his effort eluded Kenyan goal minder, Patrick Matasi but the ball hit the upright with nobody to tap in.

    Kenya could have opened the scoring after 62 minutes but a lob over keeper, Nahimana from Timothy Ouma was punched away for safety.

    Things work well for the home side, when they brought in Miheso Ayisi and Timothy Ouma for Austine Odhiambo Otieno and Duke Abuya respectively in the 65th minute and the game improved for the better.

    Seven minutes later, Kenya’s substitute, Abuya planted home a pass from Otieno by beating advancing Burundi keeper, Nahimana to make it 1-0.

    With six minutes to time, Burundi leveled the scores 1-1 through a counter attacker in the goal scorer, Sudi Abdallah had outpaced Kenyan defender, Omorwa Otieno and gave no chance to Kenyan goal minder, Matasi to save the situation.

    Late substitutions were made with five minutes added on the clock, the two teams failed to find the winner.

    Kenyan Coach, Engin Firat simply echoed, “This is not the results we wanted, we knew it could be hard game for us because Burundi has fast players who are always playing long balls upfront.”

    He admitted that the first 15 minutes of the game they did not play their usual passing game as a team.

    Burundi Coach, Etienne Ndayiragiye said he was happy that his charges finished the game well and forced a draw although Kenya gave them tough game.

    “I am glad that football lovers have enjoyed the entertaining football his team played and the spirit his players showed despite that they were one down,” he said.

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