Kenya’s Harambee Stars survived a second half onslaught by hosts Ethiopia Walia Ibex as they settle for a 0-0 draw in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier played at the Bahir Dir stadium.
Ethiopia begun the game like a house on fire pushing Kenya to their own half with Shemeles Bekele and Gatoch Panom controlling the midfield battle against the likes of Tottenham Hotspurs Victor Wanyama.
In the 19th minute, Michael Olunga ran into the area onto Eric Johanna’s pass, unleashed a left foot shot that troubled Ethiopia custodian Samson Asefa, before his defence cleared their lines.
Ten minutes later, Olunga played in Johanna, whose curving shot veered off the target.
The hosts combined well inside Kenya’s penalty area, but Shemeles Bekele hit the side net before Michael Olunga opened Gambian referee Bakary Gassama’s book with a 36th minute yellow card.
Gor Mahia utility Philemon Otieno followed suit two minutes later and three minutes to the halftime break, Ethiopia’s Dukele Dawa was booked for a nasty challenge on Abud Omar.
In the second half Ethiopia came back into the game guns blazing as they fired from all cylinders trying to get a break through as they needed a dramatic change.
Walia Ibex laid siege in Harambee Stars half pilling pressure as they totally enjoyed possession as they played fluid football buoyed by 60,000 spectators that added another twist to the tale.
Kenya coach Sebastian Migne was dealt with a blow on 54 minutes after Abud limped out forcing Sweden-based Erick “Marcelo” Ouma to replace him in the second change after the ineffective Eric Johanna was withdrawn for Ismael Gonzalez at restart.
The hosts, backed by a huge crowd, continued with their glorious hunt for the opener bossing the midfield with ease, while slowly making inroads in the Kenya defence with wave after wave of frenzied attacks that were either thwarted by keeper Patrick Matasi or went over the bar as Ethiopia proved to be the champions of romantic football in the day.
Demte Beneyam forced Patrick Matasi to a save with a veracious shot from the right flank on 54 minutes and on 67 minutes, Shemeles Bekele beat the offside trap but was denied by the upright.
Kenya picked a point from the game ensuring they are top of the group after Ghana failed to play suspended Sierra Leone.