The hosts started the match looking for goals and they took a deserved lead in 23rd minute when Asechalew Girma scored past goalie Boniface Oluoch.
Tusker midfielder Kevin Kimani missed a penalty as Harambee Stars went down 2-0 to Ethiopia in first leg match of Chan qualifier played on Sunday.
The hosts started the match looking for goals and they took a deserved lead in 23rd minute when Asechalew Girma scored past Boniface Oluoch. Gatoch Panom grabbed the second from penalty spot in 77th minute but Kenya could have nicked a vital away goal but Kimani failed to score from twelve yards.
Kenya coach Bobby Williamson opted to start Gor Mahia custodian Oluoch between the sticks despite his blunders against Congo Brazzaville a week ago. Oluoch benched Nakumatt FC’s new acquisition Wycillife Kasaya while club less Aboud Omar started in defence alongside Edwin Wafula (AFC Leopards), Jackson Saleh (AFC Leopards) and Llyod Wahome of Tusker.
In midfield, Gor Mahia ace Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth was given the nod to start and captain the side alongside Kevin Kimani, Humphrey Mieno and Bernard Mango’li while Michael Olunga of K’Ogalo started as a lone striker upfront.
Ethiopia were the first to settle with Girma testing Oluoch with a fierce drive that went inches wide. Girma was at it again dribbling past Kenya’s rear guard but shot wide with the crowd estimated at 60,000 roaring behind the hosts.
Olunga had the best chance to put Harambee Stars level minutes to half-time but blasted wide from a scoring opportunity. This prompted Ethiopia to make a swift counter attack but goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch denied them from going 2-0 up before the break.
Williamson admitted afterwards that Kenya are now faced with a tall order to advance to the next stage of the competition. “We have put ourselves in trouble by not scoring from the penalty spot. That penalty was vital and we needed an away goal to make our work easier in Nairobi after a fortnight but now we will be forced to fight from a clean plate.
“Ethiopia were good and their fans were fantastic. We also created our own chances that we should have utilized but it was not the case. We know it will not be easy in Nairobi but we will fight to sail through. Let’s hope playing at home will push us through.”
The result is a big loss for Kenya in their quest to play in Chan finals next year and come just a week after the team did well to hold Congo Brazzaville away in the opening match of 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. Harambee Stars will need to win return leg by a three goal margin to be sure of making it to the next round of the competition.