Kenya to face Eritrea in Cecafa semis duel
Rodgers Ndegwa in Kampala
Harambee Stars will face Eritrea in the semi-finals of the ongoing Council For Eastern and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Cup after both teams won their respective final group matches at the weekend.
Stars, under the tutelage of assistant coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno, laboured to edge out a determined Zanzibar 1-0 in Kampala Uganda on Saturday while Eritrea played to 0-0 all draw with Somalia in a do-or-die contest yesterday.
Kenya’s only goal came from Ulinzi Stars attacker Oscar Wamalwa in the second half as they secured a semi-final berth with the maximum nine points after three wins against Tanzania, Somalia and Sudan to finish at the top of Group B unbeaten.
Their challengers, who are looking to lift the trophy for the first time, beat Burundi 1-0 before going down 2-0 against 14-time champions Uganda. They then proceeded to win 3-0 against Djibouti to finish second in their group with seven points.
Speaking after the narrow win, Otieno, who was on the touchline in the absence of the suspended head coach Francis Kimanzi, said the team is progressing well.
“We are happy to have won today but we are not overjoyed because we still have two more crucial matches ahead of us. Our plan was to top the group so as to play the second placed team in the other group,” said Otieno.
In regards to whether his charges have what it takes to upset their challengers tomorrow, Otieno explained: “At the knock-out stages, it is not always about if the other team is big or not but what matters most is how prepared you are. Being prepared is what wins matches at this point and I think my players are well rested for the challenge.”
Eritrea’s captain Robel Teklemichael acknowledged cracking the Stars will be a doubting task but promised fireworks.