Stars seek Tanzania revenge as Cecafa begins
It is pay-back time as Kenya’s Harambee Stars face Kilimanjaro Stars of Tanzania in their opening Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup match at Star Times Stadium Lugogo in Kampala on Sunday.
There is certainly no love lost between the two teams and Kenya will be pulling no punches to inflict revenge on the Tanzanians who sensationally bundled them out in the African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers last August.
During the fateful evening at Kasarani which the teams were deadlocked 0-0 which was the same result in the first leg in Dar-es-Salaam, Kenya was undone by inaccuracy on penalty lottery as Tanzania ran off 4-1 winners.
Experienced goalkeeper Juma Kaseja, who turns out for KMC in the Tanzanian mainland league, was the hero of the day saving two penalties by Kenya.
In retrospect, it was utterly shameful for Harambee Stars to lose to Tanzania which is way behind them in the Fifa rankings although on the flip-side, Francis Kimanzi’s charges may be happy to learn that Kaseja is not in the Tanzanian squad that is featuring in the regional championship.
According to a statement released by Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) on Thursday, Clifford Ndimbo, 10 players have been omitted in the squad by head coach Juma Mgunda including Kaseja, Salum Abubakar (Tanzania Prisons), Fred Tangalu (Lipuli FC), Shaban Idd Chilunda (Azam), Kelvin John (Football House) and Eliud Ambokile (TP Mazembe, DRC).
However the dropping of Kaseja and his colleagues should not be construed to mean that Tanzania is an under-strength side as they boast of the likes of Rashid Chombo, who plies his trade with IK Trej Taby in Sweden, experienced Yanga defender Kelvin Yondani and Paul Nonga of Lipuli.
For Harambee Stars whose title credentials are under test, the die is cast with the team oozing a lot of confidence few hours before its departure to Kampala.
“We have been preparing for this competition and I must say that we as players have done our part and it’s upon us to showcase our skills out there. Obviously, we don’t expect things to be any easy but I have this feeling that we are more than ready to give our opponents a run for their money,” said AFC Leopards midfielder Whyvonne Isuza.
Just like Tanzania, Harambee Stars have received a psychological boost in the presence of Sweden-based Anthony Wambani.
Wazito prodigy Musa Masika, Moses Mudavadi of Kakamega Homeboyz and Mathare United’s quartet of Andrew Juma, Kevin Kimani, David Owino and Roy Okal are other trump cards for Kenya.
And, of course, goals are the ones which counts in a match and Kenya will be looking upon Oscar Wamalwa of Ulinzi Stars and Tusker’s Timothy Otieno to deliver.
After facing Tanzania, Kenya will next face Sudan on December 10 before winding up their preliminary fixtures against Zanzibar on December 14.