Kenya break 15-year jinx against Ghana's Black Stars
Kenya made history on Saturday when defeating firm favourites Ghana 1-0 in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier to smash a 15-year jinx against the four-time African champions.
Nicholas Opoku’s first-half own goal helped 10-man Harambee Stars break a 15-year jinx against the Black Stars of Ghana as they edged them in the Group “F” qualifier at a half-packed Kasarani stadium on Saturday.
Eric Johanna’s speculative right-footed inswinger from the right flank was turned home by defender Nicholas Opoku under pressure from Michael Olunga as the Kenyans took a shock lead three minutes to the breather.
Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango was sent off at the hour mark after a reckless tackle on Ghana striker Majeed Waris.
Kenya coach Sebastian Migne reacted by sacrificing Eric Johanna for David “Cheche” Ochieng to build a four-man defence that had Joackins Atudo, who replaced the injured Philemon Otieno at halftime.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah threw into the fray Raphael Dwamena, Harrison Afful and Kwadwo Asamoah for Edwin Gyasi, Ebenezer Ofori and Daniel Opare in search of the equaliser, but the Kenyans stood tall at the back.
Victory for Kenya, only the second against the four-time African champions after 15 years, takes them level on points with Ghana after two rounds of qualifiers, with both sides on three points.
Kenya have back-to-back games against Ethiopia next month, while Ghana will be at home against Sierra Leone, who visit Ethiopia Sunday afternoon in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ovella Ochieng had the first sniff at goal for Kenya five minutes into time beating Daniel Opare with pace, before his hard shot was parried by Richard Ofori in the Ghana post.
Three minutes later, Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey sent wide a free kick outside the box after Musa Mohammed had fouled Majeed Waris.
Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe splashed the first yellow on Aboud Omar for clipping Edwin Gyasi on 25 minutes. Patrick Matasi picked Christian Atsu’s shot as the Ghanaians pushed for the opener.
Both teams were pressing hard whenever they were in possession of the ball with the hosts thumping long balls upfront. Ismael Gonzalez's attempt in the 27th minute missed the target by a whisker and two minutes after the half-hour mark, Michael Olunga, in a one-on-one with Ofori was unable to find the target with the Maritzburg United custodian doing well to deflect his shot for a fruitless corner.
Migne surprisingly partnered Joash Onyango and Musa Mohammed at the back with Gonzalez benching Anthony Akumu in midfield that also had Sofapaka’s Dennis Odhiambo.
Francis Kahata and Ovella plied on the flanks with Johanna being handed a free role in midfield as Olunga led the front line.
Atsu exchanged passes with Partey to tee up Dwamena in the 72nd minute, but the striker was denied by vigilant Matasi in the Kenyan goal.
Migne introduced Akumu for Dennis Odhiambo as the men in red held on for the famous win.