Kenya win as Congo fail to qualify for AFCON 2017
Nairobi, June 6 (IANS) Kenya secured their first win in five attempts, eliminating Congo from the Africa Nations Cup football finals, to be held in Gabon in 2017.
Eric Johanna struck a second-half winner as Harambee Stars rallied from behind to beat visiting Congo 2-1 in a thrilling Africa Cup of Nations qualifier here on Sunday, reports Xinhua.
The visitors took the lead through a controversial Prince Oniangue penalty in the 20th minute before Ayub Timbe levelled the scores with a volley four minutes later to ensure the two sides head for the breather at 1-1.
With the home crowd anxious for a win, captain Victor Wanyama picked the ball in midfield before releasing Johanna with a clever through pass.
Johanna outsprinted his marker and looped the ball past Congo goalkeeper Christopher Mafoumbi to give coach Stanley Okumbi his maiden win.
The win all but assured Guinea Bissau, considered minnows before the qualifiers started, sail through to the Africa Cup of Nations as the group leaders after their 3-2 win over Zambia on Saturday.
For Congo, previously needing at least a draw to keep alive hopes of winning Group E, the defeat in Nairobi erased any hopes they held and left the West African though to the finals in Gabon in 2017.
Guinea Bissau, who beat Zambia 3-2 on Saturday with a goal six minutes into stoppage time, have an unassailable four point lead with one round left.
The team from the tiny former Portuguese colony in West Africa were considered no-hopers by pundits when qualifying kicked off last June.
But solitary-goal home and away victories over Kenya three months ago lifted them to the top of the table after Congo and Zambia drew twice.
It is was the first win for Kenyan coach Stanley Okumbi since he replaced Bobby Williamson in February.
"I am not the one who have won, it's a win for the team and all Kenyans. I believe everybody is happy. I didn't get enough time to train team in previous matches, but the build up to Congo match was fantastic. We need more friendlies to get better results," said Okumbi during a post match conference.