Harambee Stars blow away African Cup of Nations dreams
Kenya on Sunday suffered a dramatic 0-1 loss to Guinea-Bissau in their return Group E Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Nyayo National Stadium that effectively ended their hopes of securing a place in the continental finals.
Cicero Semedo scored the controversial goal nine minutes to the end of the game, but Harambee Stars players, led by goalkeeper Arnold Origo and captain Victor Wanyama, vehemently protested, arguing that the ball had not crossed the line.
Disgruntled home fans joined in the protest, forcing police to lobe teargas canisters in the air, leading to a 35-minute stoppage.
Television replays from just two angles could not conclusively show whether the ball had crossed the line or not.
Throughout the stoppage, fans chanted “Okumbi must go!” to express their dissatisfaction with the new coach.
Enraged fans even threw water bottles at Okumbi and his assistants as they walked back to the changing room after the loss.
Two wins out of two for Guinea-Bissau against Kenya puts the west Africans on top of the group on seven points.
Republic of Congo and Zambia, both on five points, were due to meet later Sunday with a winner guaranteed top position in the group.
Kenya, on one point from four matches, have no realistic chance of qualification and will be playing their last two round of matches for honour.
Okumbi made changes in the team that lost to Bissau in the away match, resting the inexperienced Patillah Omotto and starting with Zambia-based midfielder Anthony Akumu in his stead.
Musa Mohammed, whose frailties in the left back position saw Kenya concede a goal in Wednesday’s qualifier in Bissau, was also replaced by Thika United captain Dennis Odhiambo, a natural left back.
Speedy winger Paul Were also made a comeback to the starting lineup and was a handful to the Guinea Bissau defense.
Were carved up several chances but was time and again let down by that final ball.
Kenya were superior from the whistle, but for a goal, with Wanyama, winger Paul Were, and midfielder Anthony Akumu taking the ball to the visitors’ territory with intent.