Uganda Cranes face off with Kenya’s Harambee Stars in this year’s Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup final in a game expected to evoke memories of the 2008 final in which the two sides featured.
By Joseph Kizza
Kenya 2 (Baraza 30’, 80’) Zanzibar 2 (Khamis 20’ Morris 75’) (Kenya wins on penalties)
Uganda 3 (Okwi 12’, Ssentongo 53’, 73’) Tanzania 0
Third place playoff (Saturday 8)
Tanzania v Zanzibar (4pm)
Final (Saturday 8)
Uganda v Kenya (7pm)
KAMPALA - Uganda Cranes face off with Kenya’s Harambee Stars in this year’s Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup final in a game expected to evoke memories of the 2008 final in which the two sides featured at the same Namboole venue.
And in the same fashion in which this year's soccer event officially opened, with Uganda v Kenya, so will it close.
It was a nail-biting display at Namboole in the first semifinal game on Thursday in which Kenya had to overcome a tight encounter with Zanzibar.
Zanzibar took the lead through Khamis Mcha Khamis in the 20th minute, thanks to a spirited counterattack. The Harambee Stars leveled ten minutes later with what had appeared to be an own goal, but Mike Baraza who was involved, was awarded the goal.
Baraza’s goal definitely inspired more determination in a Kenyan side that had looked overly subdued by their opponents. And the striker often caused a lot of trouble upfront, once denied another by the woodwork.
The two sides took the break tied. But when Anthony Kimani brought down Jaku Juma Jaku in the box in the 74th minute, the referee pointed right away to the penalty spot. And Aggrey Morris tucked the ball into the back of the net.
In the 80th minute, Mike Baraza did what he had done in the first half – to score. And Kenya was back in the game. But when the remaining normal time of play and half-an-hour of extra time yielded no winner, the game was plunged into the penalties.
Khamis Mcha Khamis missed Zanzibar’s first spot kick as did his fellow teammate Issa Othaman Ally. The Kenyans converted all their four spot-kicks with the final one by Abdallah Juma confirming his side’s place in the final.
Meanwhile, Uganda – the defending champions – cruised into the final with a comfortable 3-0 thrashing of the 2010 winners, Tanzania.
Emmanuel Okwi placed the hosts in the lead early – in the 12th minute – through a Denis Guma assist. It is the striker’s first goal of this year’s tournament.
The Kilimanjaro Stars almost came close to equalizing when a Shomari Kapombe's header from a corner in the 20th minute kissed off the crossbar. Brilliant header, but hard luck.
Coach Bobby Williamson was forced to bring on Hamis Kiiza in the 36th minute when goal scorer Okwi got stretchered off the pitch following an in-action collision with Mwinyi Kazimoto.
The break came with Okwi’s goal separating the two sides. But the hosts did not give their opponents a breather of a comeback when Robert Ssentongo netted the second, just eight minutes into the second half.
And when he wrapped up the win with his second – and the third for the Cranes – in the 73rd minute, it was no doubt the hosts were set to defend their title against Kenya in the final.
Head to head
- Uganda has not lost any game. Kenya has lost only one game, the opening against Uganda.
- Kenya has won five titles against Uganda's 12.
- Uganda has not conceded any goal in this year's tournament, and shares the record with no other side.
It’s Uganda v Kenya for Cecafa final