Abdallah fires Stars to winning start at CECAFA
- Kimanzi's men only needed three minutes to open the scores with Bandari man Abdallah perfectly finishing off a series of passes between Muguna and Samuel Olwande
- In the 8th, Bakari Mwamnyeto and Paul Nonga traded passes cleverly to set up Athumani Madenge whose attempt was deflected by Samuel Odhiambo for corner
Jacob Icia in Kampala
Hassan Abdallah scored the lone goal as champions Kenya edged Tanzania 1-0, to launch their CECAFA Senior Challenge title defence on a positive note at the KCCA Stadium, Kampala on Sunday.
With only one member of the 2017 winning team, Whyvonne Isuza participating in the relatively balanced action, the Francis Kimanzi newlook team overcame a quite experienced Tanzanian side to top Group B which also has Sudan and Zanzibar.
Sudan and Zanzibar drew 1-1 in a match played at the same venue earlier in the day.
Kenya showed hunger for goals from the opening whistle; Gor Mahia’s Kenneth Muguna setting up debutant Oscar Wamalwa who was robbed of the ball by Tanzania’s veteran goalkeeper Aishi Manula as he readied to pull the trigger.
Kimanzi’s men only needed three minutes to open the scores with Bandari man Abdallah perfectly finishing off a series of passes between Muguna and Samuel Olwande.
In the eighth minute, Bakari Mwamnyeto and Paul Nonga traded passes cleverly to set up Athumani Madenge whose attempt was deflected by Samuel Odhiambo for corner.
Tanzania grew in confidence and took control of the midfield, Simba Sports Club man Jonas Mkude notably spicing the flow with sumptuous touches.
He almost found the breakthrough, through Cleophace Mkandala having sent him a fine cross only for Kenya’s captain of the day Joash Onyango to swiftly send the ball out of play for a corner.
At the quarter hour mark, impressive Lawrence Juma, Wamalwa and Muguna were generous again to Hassan, doing all the work before releasing him at the goalmouth only to shoot over the bar.
In the 28th minute, Wamalwa had a bad collision that saw him bandaged on the head, but was able to continue after three minutes of medical attention on the sidelines.
Salehe Gereza almost punished Kenya with a powerful header, having connected Madenge’s cross at the half hour mark but Odhiambo did well to keep Kenya on the driving seat.
Six minutes later, Wamalwa had his acrobatic attempt miss the target with Manula beaten, as the holders struggled to restore the momentum they had kicked off with.
Kilimanjaro’s unrewarded control of the proceedings forced coach Mugunda to execute his first change in the 44th, Lucas Kikoti paving way for Herman Mpepo, with Kenya fully suppressed in their own half.
But Kimanzi seemingly breathed more life to Harambee Stars during the break, and were more resolute as the action resumed.
With the regained mojo, Wamalwa’s solo effort saw him lose his markers, race into the box but could not direct the ball into the net with only Manula against him.
Mgunda then rested Nonga and Madenge for Ditram Nchimbi and Hassan Dilunga respectively, as Kimanzi brought on Cliffton Miheso for Kevin Kimani, and Isuza for Anthony Wambani in the last quarter of the clash.
Dilunga had his fisrt attempt in the 85th thwarted by Johnstone Omurwa, much to the chagrin of Mugunda on the touchline who had seen an equaliser in the promising move.
With a minute to go, Wamalwa tried a back-heel with the six-yard box that was easily picked by Manula, another prominently wasted chance of the day.
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