Kenya got their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification back on track with a 1-0 victory over Ghana at Kasarani Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Centre-back Nicholas Opoku’s own goal five minutes from the break was enough for the Harambee Stars who later had to finish the Group F home qualifier with 10 men.
As Kenya resorted to wing-play from the start especially down the right, Ghana looked to taking a calm approach into the match, choosing to keep possession and move the ball from width to width with Christian Atsu trying to exert his authority on the flanks with minimal success.
In the fifth minute, Ovellah Ochieng tested goalkeeper Richard Ofori with a stinging shot from the right after his speed created a clear path into the box.
Atsu was stopped in his tracks three minutes later by an offside call despite being clearly played on by a Kenyan defender.
The Black Stars’ first foray at goal came in the 13th minute when Majeed Waris’ shot from the right after being put through by Edwin Gyasi went inches wide. Waris was found unmarked again minutes later but couldn’t put enough power to his header from the edge of the six yard box.
Kenya came strongly into the game after the half-hour mark combining their wing game with long range strikes.
Eric Johanna saw his cross headed wide by Odhiambo in the 39th but his next effort a minute later resulted in the breakthrough for the Harambee Stars.
Johanna’s speculative right-footed in-swinger from the right flank had Nicholas Opoku – under pressure from Michael Olunga – turning the ball into his own net in an attempt to defend.
Both sides made substitutions right at the start of the second half with Joackins Atudo and Raphael Dwamena coming on for Kenya and Ghana respectively.
In search for the equalizer, Ghana later threw in Harrison Afful and Kwadwo Asamoah for his 70th cap on his return to international football after four years.
But the Kenyans – who had defender Joash Onyango sent off on the hour mark for a tackle on Majeed Waris – stood tall at the back in defending their solitary goal lead till the final whistle.
Despite the defeat, Ghana remain top of Group F on three points with better goal difference while Kenya sit behind also with same points. Sierra Leone can jump top of the group if they avoid defeat at Ethiopia on Sunday.