2026WCQ: Kenya held by stubborn Burundi as Somalia fall to Mozambique

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The two teams will be back in action on Tuesday

Harambee Stars' return to the scene of their last conquest where they won the Four Nations Tournament at the Bingu National Stadium in Malawi in March did not go according to plan as Engin Firat's men stumbled to 1-1 draw against a stubborn Burundi side in a Group F 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier match on Friday afternoon.

Kenya thought they had done enough to win the game after substitute Duke Abuya put Harambee Stars in the lead on the 72nd minute only to be denied the three points by Sudi Abdallah who equalised for the Swallows in the 85th minute, just five minutes after coming on.

Burundi's goalkeeper, Jonathan Nahimana, was the busiest of the two stoppers as the thwarted Harambee Stars on numerous occasions. His Kenyan counterpart, 37-year-old Patrick Matasi had an easy first half but Harambee Stars' complacency in the second half left him helpless on several occasions as Burundi attacked on the counter. It was from one such nervy moment by the Haramvee Stars that Burundi scored from, an incident that had Kenya leaving the pitch regretting rather than rejoicing.

Engin Firat set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 with all intent pointing to a playing style that will rely on width with overlapping wingbacks Rooney Onyango and Abud Omar supporting Timothy Ouma and Clifton Miheso respectively. A double-pivot of the experienced Anthony Akumu and Richard Odada screened the central defence of Johnstone Omurwa and Daniel Anyembe while Kenneth Muguna slotted in the central attacking midfield role behind team captain Michael Olunga. Patrick Matasi started between the posts.

Kenya, looking for their second win in this qualifying campaign after a 2-1 loss to Gabon and a 5-0 win over Seychelles in November 2023, was the more ambitious of the two sides but the even with their numerous scoring chances, Harambee Stars could not find a way past Burundian goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana in the first half.

Richard Odada created Kenya's best scoring chance in the 31st minute when Nahimana parried his vicious long range effort into the path of Harambee Stars captain and striker Michael Olunga but the Al Duhail forward's reaction was not fast enough and the Burundian defence cleared the ball before he could tap in the rebound.

Another attempt to score went begging in the 36th minute when Odada's ambitious attempt to find the far corner of the goal from a free kick won in the final third at the left channel went high and wide.

No team created a real scoring chance until the break but the second half resumed with Burundi packing more bite and almost punished a complacent Harambee Stara in the 52nd minute.

Burundi's veteran forward Saidi Ntibazonkiza demonstrated his experience during a quick flowing move by the Swallows as he threaded a through pass to Bienvenue Kanakimana who stole in behind a dazed Aboud Omar to get to the end of the pass, then cut in, and hit the post with Patrick Matasi helplessly sprawling on the ground to keep the ball out.

It was a scary moment for the Harambee Stars which came two minutes after they had fluffed an opportunity to score when Nahimana parried a cross only for Harambee Stars' shot on the rebound to be blocked by an alert Burundi defence.

Harambee Stars did not wake up quickly from that scare and two minutes later, Burundi played a long ball to bypass the Harambee Stars midfielder but fortunately the offside flag saved Kenya as Burundi had an attacker clean through on goal.

Kenya finally recollected themselves and in the 60th minute, Odada, once again, fired another warning shot, this time his shot from inside the box going high and wide, but it was a moment that Harambee Stars built on as three minutes later, Timothy Ouma almost opened the scoring.

Ouma turned his opponent inside-out in the half space inside the Burundi penalty box before seeing Nahimana pull a wonder save to deny his well-executed deft left-foot chip to the far corner.

Two minutes after that spark by the Harambee Stats, Firat brought Austin Odhiambo and Duke Abuya for Timothy Ouma and Clifton Miheso respectively. It was a change that took only seven minutes to bear fruit as Austin Odhiambo's throughpass triggered Duke Abuya's run into the box and even though Nahimana resisted his first attempt to get the ball under him, Abuya's quick reaction to guide the rebound into the net had Harambee Stars celebrating an opening goal and a potential winner in the 72nd minute.

That feeling lasted on 13 minutes after Sudi Abdallah dispossed Daniel Anyembe in the Harambee Stars, rounded Patrick Matasi, and scored into an empty net.

With no playing style prevailing over the other after that, the match ended 1-1, a result that quite backed the history of the fixture, where neither team has scored more than once against the other in six meetings.

The result leaves Harambee Stars third in Group with four points from three matches. Burundi also have four points from as many matches but are ranked fourth on goal difference. The result definitely complicates Harambee Stars' qualifying chances as a victory would have put them in a better position to fight for the automatic qualifying slot or the play-off berth.


Kenya's next match will be against Ivory Coast on Tuesday in Malawi, a match which they must win to put their campaign back on track.

Elsewhere in Maputo, Somalia lost 2-1 to hosts Mozambique despite a late fightback. Mozambique led 2-0 at halftime with goals from Alfons Amade and Stanley Ratifo in the 14th and 29th minute respectively. Somalia pulled one back in the second half through Ismail Shirwa in the 66th minute but attempts to add a second and get a result proved fruitless.

The result leaves Somalia bottom of Group G with zero points from three matches.

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