An innocuous injury by Thika United midfielder Joseph Kuria, who was then replaced by burly Sony Sugar striker Enock Agwanda may have saved Kenya from yet another defeat in an international friendly match against Botswana.
The under-23 side came from behind to wallop Zebras 3-1 at Nyayo Stadium on Wednesday night. Until Kuria's substitution due to a an ankle injury sustained after a Botswana player fell on him heavily, Stars had been trailing the Southern African state by a single goal, gifted to Tebogo Sembowa after another crucial mistake by Sofapaka's Eugene Asike.
Lack of cohesion in the midfield and coordination in attack meant that Kenya had little positive to take into the half-time break. In the second half, the arm muscles on the stocky Agwanda were to provide midas touch to Stars comeback bid.
"Agwanda really made a difference with his work-rate but at half-time after I talked to the players, they took up my advise and you could see they played with more hunger, forcing Botswana to the back foot," admitted coach James Nandwa.
Urged on by fans, who loved the way he ran after every lost course, Agwanda nearly brought Kenya back into the game just after half-time after Asike headed his long throw onto the crossbar with the net gaping.
The Zebras did not heed the warning and the dangers of the 'Henry Motego like throws' and they paid dearly in the 47th minute when Agwanda found skipper Paul Mungai with his long throws and the striker caused apprehension in the Botswana defence allowing the lurking Clifton Miheso to pop into the half and side foot the ball past Botswana keeper Noah Maposa.
Kenya had their tails up and went for the jugular. They were rewarded in the 52nd minute from yet another Agwanda throw that was headed towards the goal by Mungai and Miheso finished the job burying the ball over the line to give Kenya the lead.
Agwanda then had the chance of capping a memorable outing but he delayed when sent through by Anthony Kimani, allowing Maposa to make three saves.
The game ended the contest in the 67th minute when 'Man of the Match' Mungai controlled a pass from Miheso danced around Edwin Olerile to stun Mompoloki Sepehenolo who had replaced Maposa. Though comical defending and goal-keeping blunders nearly brought the Zebras back in the game, there was no denying Stars were the best team in the last half of the match.