Intercontinental Cup: Kenya beat New Zealand 2-1
Heavy showers greeted the city for the first time this year as Kenya came back to beat New Zealand 2-1 in their first ever FIFA recognised meeting in the Intercontinental Cup on Saturday.
Debutant Sarpreet Singh, of Indian origin, opened the scoring for the All Whites with a left-footed finish just before half time. But Miheso Cliffton pulled one back for the Harambe Stars in stoppage-time before Ovella Ochieng netted their winner in the second half at the Mumbai Football Arena.
The Kiwis were certainly uplifted by the downpour in the first half, creating a host of chances but could not quite find their finishing boots, much to their eventual dismay.
Sarpreet, New Zealand’s best player on the night was heavily involved -- first creating a chance for striker Alex Rufer -- who scuffed his shot over goal. Minutes later, Sarpreet found himself through on goal but his tame shot did not trouble Kenya’s custodian Patrick Musotsi, who collected easily.
Kenya’s best chance in the first half fell to Erick Ouma. The left back was fed by Ochieng and out muscled a Kiwi defender before unleashing a shot that struck the cross bar.
Atoning for a missed one on one opportunity, Sarpreet put his team ahead in the 42nd minute with a sublime finish. Rufer had fed Sarpreet through the middle and the youngster opened up his body to curl the ball into the left corner.
Just minutes later, Kenya were awarded a free kick just outside the box. And after much dilly-dallying, Cliffton lifted the ball over the wall to curl it beyond the fingertips of an outstretched Maxime Crocombe and into the top right corner.
Some scrappy defending from the Kiwis almost handed Kenya an early lead after the break; with the African side now imposing themselves much more.
Kenya managed to find the winner after Patilah Omoto dispossessed substitute Noah Billingsley in his own half to slip the ball through to Ochieng. The midfielder took a touch and waited for Crocombe to go down before slotting in into the bottom left corner.
The hard-fought win will certainly give Kenya some confidence as they prepare to face Sunil Chhetri and co. in their second game on June 4.