Nairobi — MacDonald Mariga showed why he is rated as Kenya's best footballer with a perfect display in a friendly international match with Tanzania in Dar-es-Salaam on Wednesday evening in which Kenya held the hosts to a 1-1 draw.
Mariga, the Inter Milan midfielder, put the Harambee Stars ahead after 13 minutes in the highly paced game scoring from a free kick awarded after Auxerre striker Dennis Oliech had been upended yards from the box.
Kenya dictated the first half with gifted youthful players Kevin Omondi and George "Blackberry" Odhiambo both given starts by coach Twahir Muhiddin keeping the huge Tanzanian crowd off their seats with dazzling moves.
With Oliech, who plays in the French league, well known by the Tanzanian players kept at bay for the initial periods of the game, it was Odhiambo and veteran John Baraza who were doing the initial attacks.
But Oliech, never easily tamed, burst in the 13th minute rounded two Taifa Stars defenders only to be brought down metres from the box. Mariga moved to take the resultant free kick which he did perfectly shaking the net to silence the Tanzanian crowd.
From then on, it was the Harambee Stars dictating the paces but Dennis Oliech and Co. could not get way past the Tanzanian defence. The first half ended with Kenya leading 1-0.
A half time pep talk by new Tanzania coach, Jan Poulsen, seemed to have given them extra energy in the second half in which they came back strongly piling pressure on the Kenyan defence that had Edgar "Fighter" Owino, George Owino, Julius Owino and Lloyd Wahome.
They were rewarded in the 67th minute when Mrisho Ngasa levelled the scores beating Wilson Oburu in the Kenyan goal. Kenya will play hosts Ethiopia in Addis Ababa in another friendly next Wednesday.