In a riveting international friendly match played at the Mardan Sports Complex stadium in Antalya, Turkey, Kenya’s national football team, Harambee Stars, struggled for a win as they secured a 2-2 draw against Russia, the hosts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The game kicked off with a bang as Russia’s Aleksandr Sobolev broke the deadlock in the eighth minute, capitalizing on an assist from Maksim Mukhin.
However, Harambee Stars responded swiftly, with Anthony Okumu, who plies his trade in the J1 league with Sagan Tosu, equalizing in the 16th minute.
The Kenyan side was not done yet, as Masoud Juma, playing for Al-Jabalain in the Saudi league, capitalized on a mistake by Russia’s goalkeeper to score Kenya’s second goal in the 37th minute.
Despite Kenya’s remarkable performance, Russia clawed their way back into the game. In the 89th minute, Ivan Oblyakov scored the equalizer for the host nation after a swift counter-attack, breaking Kenyan hearts and denying them a much-needed victory.
Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga, who plays for Al-Duhail, had a couple of opportunities to seal the win for Kenya but couldn’t find the target.
Harambee Stars’ performance in this international friendly serves as a significant morale boost as they gear up for the upcoming FIFA 2026 World Cup qualifiers, which commence in November.
Kenya finds itself placed in Group ‘F’ alongside formidable opponents like Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Burundi, and Seychelles. Their World Cup qualification journey begins on November 13, with a challenging fixture against Gabon at Stade de Franceville.