60,000 football fans, including the UK High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey, sold out Nairobi’s Moi International Kasarani Stadium this afternoon as Hull City from the English Championship took part in a friendly against Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia.
The match was arranged in conjunction with the Tigers’ Main Shirt Sponsor SportPesa and was the return match after City hosted the Sport Pesa All Stars in a friendly at the KCOM Stadium in February 2017.
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Hull manager Nigel Adkins selected a mix of youth and experience for the match with Dany Batty, Adam Curry and Robbie McKenzie all starting the game. However, despite picking an attack-minded team that featured Jarrod Bowen, Jon Toral, Evandro, Will Keane and Fraizer Campbell, it was their Kenyan hosts who created the better chances and dominated for long periods of the game.
Gor’s English manager Dylan Kerr named a strong side with the only difference from the team that played Rayon Sport last weekend in the CAF Confederation Cup being Ephraim Guikan starting upfront alongside Jacques Tuyisenge ahead of Meddie Kagere.
The game started positively for the home side with a half chance four minutes in, with George Odhiambo trying his luck with a left foot snap shot from distance, but it went straight to Hull keeper Marshall.
Hull responded with a bouncing cross-ball inside the box which fell to Frazer Campbell’s feet. However, his attempt to dribble his way into the box was stopped by a forest of legs.
A sweeping team move from Gor Mahia followed, with Odhiambo sweeping the ball low into the edge of the box from the left into Guikan’s path, but his shot was well handled by Marshall.
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On the 12th minute, Evandro’s freekick from the right found Jon Toral unmarked at the backpost but the winger’s header beat the Kenyan keeper but his shot flew over the crossbar.
The best chance in the first quarter of the match fell to Francis Kahata on the 19th minute who should have opened the scoring when he was picked out on the counter by a well weighted pass from Odhiambo on the right. However, the midfielder’s shot ended going wide.
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Kahata came close again in the 27th minute with a freekick from the edge of the box after Tuyisenge was brought down, but his curling effort over the wall was inches close, rolling over the bar.
Three minutes later from another counter Humphrey Mieno released Tuyisenge through on goal, but despite curling it beyond Marshall, it went inches wide of the target.
For the English side, goalkeepers David Marshall in the first half, followed by Callum Barton in the second, produced a number of fine saves to deny the Kenyan side a deserved goal.
With the game finishing without either side managing to hit the back of the net, the result hinged on a penalty shootout.
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In the first five penalties, Skipper Harun Shakava missed the first for Gor but his team-mate Oluoch atoned by making a save from Jarod Bowen. Kagere stepped up for the next and scored with Oluoch keeping the advantage by saving Thomas Powell’s kick.
Tuyisenge took Gor Mahia 2-0 with a well taken kick but Hull found a way back into the game with Jon Toral scoring.
Wesley Onguso’s kick was then saved by second half keeper Callum Burton.
After Oluoch saved Brandon Fleming’s shot, Okeyo had the simple task of scoring the final kick to earn Gor the win, but his tame effort was easily saved by Burton. Kevin Stewart scored Hull’s fifth to take the scores to 2-2.
With the scores even, the shoot out went to sudden death with the two teams scoring their first kicks. However, Kevin Omondi saw his penalty saved, giving the visitors a 4-3 victory.
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The post-season trip will now continue with the Hull City squad and staff set to visit a number of community projects over the next couple of days, before returning to the UK on Wednesday.
Hull City (Starting XI): David Marshall, Dan Batty, Robbie McKenzie, Adam Curry, Stephen Kingsley, Kevin Stewart, Evandro, Jarrod Bowen, Fraizer Campbell, Jon Toral, Will Keane.