South Sudan stun Kenya in friendly match

Wednesday September 13 2023

Kenya's Eric Ouma (R) vies for the ball with South Sudan’s Riak Chol during their international friendly match played at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Kenya on September 12, 2023. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NMG


A second minute strike by Tito Okello earned "Bright Stars" of South Sudan a historic 1-0 win over Kenya’s Harambee Stars in an international friendly match held at Moi International Sports Centre (MISC), Kasarani in Nairobi Tuesday.

Heading into this match, the two teams had met four times with Harambee Stars triumphing in all. It was therefore no surprise to see the Bright Stars players celebrate wildly after the final whistle.

Before today’s encounter, the two teams had last met on March 13,2021 in an international friendly match held in Nairobi that the hosts won by a solitary goal.

Kenya, coached by Engin Firat, went into the tie looking to build on their 2-1 win over hosts Qatar in another friendly match held last Thursday.

Read: Firat eyes another win as Kenya battle South Sudan

But it was not the case as South Sudan, who are coached by Stephine Hen, superbly defended their early lead until the final minute of the match.


Firat made one change to the side that stunned Qatar. He introduced defender Brian Mandela for Johnstone Omurwa, whose club Estrela da Amadora in Portugal requested to have him back ahead of their weekend clash against FC Porto.

It was a disappointing start for the hosts after Okello capitalised on a mistake by Joseph Okumu to fire the visitors ahead on two minutes.

Angry for an immediate response, the home supporters cheered loudly every forward move by Firat’s boys.

Midfielder Richard Odada was unlucky on 13 minutes when his shot after turning well at the edge of the box was headed by a white shirt for a fruitless corner-kick.

The visitors then attacked the other side through a counterattack, but Stars’ goalkeeper Bryne Omondi coolly gathered the ball, but released it poorly with South Sudan almost punishing him for the mistake.

South Sudan goalkeeper Joseph Luka made a brilliantly save with his finger tips in the 23rd minute to deny Kenneth Muguna from a one-on-one situation.

South Sudan made the first change of the match when Ivan Adebo replaced Christopher Mawa at the restart.

Kenya responded immediately with the introduction of Amos Nondi for Elvis Rupia.

With the home fans growing restless, Firat's charges continued to pile pressure for an equalizer with Olunga heading over the bar.

Read: Four-goal Olunga seals league title for Al Duhail

Firat added more fresh legs in his side, throwing in Clarke Oduor and Duke Abuya for Juma and Muguna respectively.

Olunga squandered a glorious chance in the 63rd minute when he unsuccessfully attempted to round goalkeeper Luka with the South Sudane defenders timely dispossessing him.

“We are happy because we won the game. Not everything was perfect but tactically, we were good,” said South Sudan Coach Hen.

”The boys were not so focused in the first 10 minutes. They were so nervous, and I do not know if it is because it was the first time they were playing at home after two years. South Sudan defended well I must say, we had many chances,” Firat said.