Mali ends Kenya’s 2022 World Cup dream with victory in Nairobi

Insight Online News

Nairobi, Oct 11 : Kenya’s dream of featuring at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was crushed by Mali after the visitors picked a 1-0 victory in Nairobi.

The result means that Mali and Uganda – who beat Rwanda 1-0 in the other Group E clash on Sunday – will battle for the single slot from the pool in the next round of Qatar 2022 CAF qualifiers.

Mali remains top of the group with 10 points while Uganda are second with eight points heading into the last two rounds.

Kenya (two) and Rwanda (one) have mathematically been eliminated from the race to Qatar 2022.

In Nairobi, Kenya showed an improved performance from the 5-0 drubbing they suffered to Mali in the neutral venue of Morocco on Thursday but it was never enough to pick three crucial points at home and put their campaign back on track.

The home side started well and Duke Abuya had the first chance of the game, forcing the Malian keeper into a fine save in the eighth minute when he struck a shot from inside the box after being teed up by Michael Olunga.

Three minutes later, Olunga was at the end of another chance for Stars when he rose to meet a Boniface Muchiri cross but his header flew over the bar.

The home side continued dominating, playing well and winning the battle in midfield where Kenneth Muguna and Richard Odada formed a better partnership.

Off a counterattack, Stars should have been one up in the 20th minute but Muchiri’s curling effort was parried away by the keeper after a shot by Olunga.

Mali were limited in their chances and the only time they came close was at the stroke of halftime when Diadie Samassekou’s looping header from Musa Djenepo’s cross hit the bar and keeper Brian Bwire bounced up to collect the rebound.

At the start of the second half, Stars should have grabbed the lead when Olunga found some space to send in a low cross into the box, but Abdalla Hassan who was sliding in at the back post could not arrive in time to tap it home.

Mali then fashioned a chance and Ibrahima Kone, who netted a hat-trick in their first meeting on Thursday, turned the ball home from inside the box off a cutback on the left.

Kenya, who were playing their second match under their new Turkish head coach Egin Firat, missed further chances to force a point, with Eric Ouma heading wide in the 71st to compound their misery.

The next round of CAF second-round qualifiers for the FIFA 2022 World Cup will be played in November with Kenya away to Uganda in a fierce derby before welcoming Rwanda at home to finish their Group E fixtures.

UNI/XINHUA

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