Michael Olunga bagged a hat trick as Kenya beat Zimbabwe 3-1 to lift the inaugural Four Nations Tournament title in Malawi on Tuesday 26th March, 2024.

Buoyed by their emphatic win over Malawi in their last clash, coach Engin Firat saw no need to change his side. The decision proved to be a bad thought when Zimbabwe was to take the lead just three minutes into the game when Joseph Okumu diverted the ball into his own net.

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Zimbabwe were not relenting in their quest to add more goals and their aim was aided by Stars dead midfield that had Anthony Akumu, Chris Erambo and Richard Odada. Having seen his midfield experiment failing to beat any fruits, Firat decided to withdraw Erambo for Kenneth Muguna in the 26th minute.

Stars grew in the game with Ayub Timbe showing some flashes of brilliance that his fans are always accustomed to on the left flank of the opposition; a route that Stars used so much in the half. Timbe’s efforts were to pay when he was to deliver a killer cross that was headed in by Michael Olunga for Stars equalizer. It was Olunga’s 26th goal in his 58th appearance for the national team on a day that he celebrated his 30th birthday.

If you though the first half was electric then the start of the second half proved us wrong. There was to be a lengthy stoppage five minutes after resumption when Zimbabwe claimed they deserved a penalty which was ignored by the referee with Stars players reacting following a Makunike challenge on a Kenyan player; the whole saga ending with a sending off of Zaimbabwe’s coach Norman Mapeza.

Minutes after the game resumed, Zimbabwe’s situation was to graduate from bad to worse when Teenage Hadebe was also sent off for a second bookable offence.

With a man less, Olunga made their opponents pay when he was to give Stars the lead when he was to bury in a rebound after the Zimbabwe keeper had parried a Rooney Onyango’s shot in his path. Richard Odada was to be sent off too with 15 minutes remaining on the clock but Olunga was not done yet. Just as his second goal, the Al-Duhail striker popped up with a left-foot scorcher just seconds after the opposing keeper had stopped Ayub Timbe from extending Stars’ lead.

The goals took Olunga’s goal tally for the national team to 28 goals with his five goals in the tournament, after scoring two in their opener against Malawi, handing him the top scorer gong in the tournament.

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