Stars eye Group B top spot with win over Zanzibar
Rodgers Ndegwa in Kampala
Harambee Stars yesterday increased their chances of retaining their Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) Senior Challenge title as they stormed into the competition’s semi-finals after coming from behind to pip Sudan 2-1 in an entertaining Group B match at the KCCA grounds.
After failing to score a penalty in their clash against Zanzibar where they settled for a 1-1 all draw, Sudan’s forward Namir Abbas rose to the occasion by breaking the deadlock in the 30th minute after collecting a loose ball just outside the danger zone before the Kenyan defence and firing a thunderbolt bolt that caught custodian Samuel Odhiambo by surprise.
Abbas could have grabbed a brace a few minutes before half time after receiving a perfect cross from winger Abdeen Maki but he fired a feeble shot in a one-on-one situation against Odhiambo.
Efforts to level matters by AFC Leopard’s Whyvone Isuza and Kakamega’s Homeboyz Moses Mudavadi who had been tasked to deliver goals before the half-time whistle were heavily thwarted by the well organised Sudan’s back line comprising Ibrahim Ahmed, Ganddil Krdgil and Osman Yahia.
Upon resumption, Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno who was on the touchline following a two-match ban of head coach Francis Kimanzi, brought in Bandari FC forward Hassan Abadalla and Tusker’s Timothy Odhiambo in place of Isuza and Wamalwa and the move brought instant results.
Abdalla rose high to head in Kenneth Muguna’s cross from the right wing in the 65th minute to make it 1-1. Five minutes later Oscar Wamalwa could have made it 2-1 but his goal was ruled off-side by the centre referee.
Wamalwa would finally get his goal in the 75th minute after he received a cross from super-Timothy before he easily tapped in the winner for the Stars to top of Group B with six points.
Zico said he was content with the team’s fighting spirit and general performance in the laboured win.
“It was very unfortunate that we conceded an early goal in the first half which we dominated. I talked to the players at half-time and encouraged them because I knew we had a fighting chance and they lost concentration in the second half, that could have seen us score more goals, but the most important thing is that we won and are in the last four,” said Otieno.