The visitors ended the fixture with Halid Lwaliwa and Emmanuel Okwi injured as they begin their qualifying journey in Nairobi
Kenya and Uganda registered a 0-0 draw in their first 2022 World Cup encounter in Group E at Nyayo Stadium on Thursday.
It was Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s first competitive match since he was appointed the Cranes’ head coach, while Kenya’s Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee was overseeing another game since he failed to qualify for the 2022 African Cup of Nations edition in Cameroon.
Kenya – with Kenneth Muguna dominating the midfield in the opening minutes – came close to breaking the deadlock in the fifth minute when Bandari’s Abdallah Hassan missed the target from close range as his header flew slightly over the bar.
Micho was forced to make a change in the eighth minute when Vipers SC defender Halid Lwaliwa – while tussling for the ball with Michael Olunga – was injured and replaced by Enock Walusimbi.
After initially awarding Uganda a penalty at the half-hour mark when Joseph Okumu brought down an opponent at the edge of the box, the centre-referee – after consultation with his assistant, changed his mind and gave Uganda a free-kick which Tout Puissant Mazembe’s Joseph Ochaya failed to convert.
Yanga SC’s new signing Khalid Aucho was the first player to be booked with a yellow card in the 40th minute as Muguna and Richard Odada – who was making his Harambee Stars debut – impressed in the midfield.
Emmanuel Okwi, Uganda’s captain, was taken off in the 44th minute but returned after medical attention.
The Cecafa giants ended the first half without a goal, although Kenya dominated the midfield as Olunga was capably kept at bay by Express FC’s Murushid Juuko.
Okwi was replaced by Smouha SC’s Derrick Nsibambi in the 46th minute following an injury that was sustained late in the first half.
Three minutes after the hour mark, Okumu became the second player to be cautioned after he blocked Milton Karisa who was through on goal.
Micho made substitutions in the 66th minute as CF Montreal’s Mustafa Kizza took Ochaya’s place while Ibrahim Orit came on for Moses Waiswa.
Kenya’s Mulee effected changes in the 70th minute by removing Muguna – who was outstanding in midfield – and Hassan as Boniface Muchiri and Duke Abuya came on.
Masoud Juma made a run down the left-wing and delivered a cross that was about to meet Olunga, but Juuko, as was the case in the first half, managed to outshine the Kenyan as he cleared the danger in the 75th minute.
After replacing Lawrence Juma in the first half, Eric Johana was withdrawn in the 77th minute and his position was taken by Tusker’s Jackson Macharia.
The neighbouring rivals were unable to break the deadlock in the remaining minutes, including the three added after regulation time, and will now have to focus on the upcoming qualifiers after beginning the journey with a draw.
Kenya XI: Ian Otieno, Joseph Okumu, Eugene Asike, Daniel Sakari, Eric Ouma, Richard Odada, Lawrence Juma, Masud Juma, Kenneth Muguna, Abdala Hassan, Michael Olunga
Subs: James Saruni, Joseph Okoth, Eric Johanna, Duke Abuya, Patilah Omutiti, Harun Shakava, Boniface Muchiri, Jackson Macharia, Frank Onyango, Henry Juma, Siraj Mohammed, Bolton Omwenga.
Uganda XI: Charles Lukwago, Dennis Iguma, Isaac Muleme, Halid Lwaliwa, Murushid Juuko, Joseph Ochaya, Khalid Aucho, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Moses Waiswa, Milton Karisa, Emmanuel Okwi.
Subs: Ismail Watenga, Joel Mutakubwa, Innocent Wafula, Gavin Kizito, Aziz Kayondo, Ibrahim Orit, Richard Basangwa, Steven Mukwala, Yunus Sentamu, Mustafa Kizza, Enock Walusimbi.