Kenya’s 'Harambee Stars' on Monday night got back on track their 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign with a 5-0 rout over minnows Seychelles at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
'The Pirates' hosted the Group "F" match in Cote d’Ivoire since there is no stadium approved by Caf in Seychelles. Group favourites Cote d’Ivoire had earlier in the day defeated Gambia 2-0 at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Both Stars and Pirates went into the clash on the back of defeats in their opening matches of the campaign.
While Kenya lost 2-1 to hosts Gabon last Thursday at Franceville Stadium in Franceville City, Seychelles were humiliated 9-0 by Cote d’Ivoire at the Stade Olympique Alassane Quattara in Abidjan.
Skipper Michael Olunga scored a brace, while Masud Juma, Rooney Onyango and Benson Omala scored a goal a piece to ease some pressure off coach Engin Firat’s shoulders.
With the big victory, Kenya extended their dominance over Seychelles as they have now won in five of their six meetings. The other encounter ended in a draw.
Firat made only two changes from the side that lost to Gabon. Midfielder Eric Johana and defender Eric Ouma replaced Kenneth Muguna and Abud Omar respectively.
Onyango started his third straight match for the national team. Striker Olunga gave Kenya a perfect start with a brace inside the opening five minutes.
Stars continued to dominate the match and on 15 minutes, forward Masud Juma should have extended the lead had he connected to Onyango’s cross from the right.
Moments before the half-hour mark, Olunga squandered two glorious opportunities when he failed to beat Pirates keeper Carlos Simeon from close range, before he fired over the crossbar from inside the box. The Al-Duhail attacker was again not lucky on 37 minutes with Simeon coming to the rescue of the hosts.
Juma ensured Kenya went for the half-time break with a comfortable 3-0 lead when he found the back of the net with a powerful close range shot in the third minute of added time after Johana picked him with a quick throw-in.
Stars experienced goalkeeper Patrick Matasi had a field day in the first-half as at no time was he called to action.
Firat rested Ouma for Omar at the restart. Ouma had missed the match against the Panthers of Gabon due to injury.
One minute into the second half, Olunga would have completed his hat-trick, but Lucas Panayi made a timely interception inside the box to deny the former Gor Mahia man joy. Seychelles coach Ralph Jean-Louis moved to improve things on his side with three substitutions in the 59th minute.
Helton Monay, Elie Sopha and Rhio Damoo all made way for Kenan Nourrice, Majid Freminot and Brandon Labrosse respectively.
But it was the visitors who added another goal through Onyango in the 62nd minute after he rushed to slot home a lose ball inside the Pirates box.
Seychelles' first shot on target of the match arrived one minute later, but Matasi was alert in his area to block Nick Labiche’s effort. Firat thereafter made two changes - Ayub Timbe and Benson Omala replacing Johana and Juma respectively.
Seychelles threatened on 70 minutes through Gervais Waye-Hive’s free-kick before Omala tapped home in 73rd minute from Onyango’s assist after goalkeeper Simeon gave away the ball. He though he had bagged a brace but his 83rd minute goal was cancelled for offside.
Firat introduced Nabilai Kibunguchy and Timothy Ouma for Johnstone Omurwa and Onyango respectively in the 88th minute.