Coach Suleiman hails win over Tanzania as Zanzibar go top
Zanzibar coach Hemed Suleiman hailed his side’s clinical second half display as they fought back to earn a 2-1 win over Tanzania Mainland in Thursday’s Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Himid Mao had put Tanzania Mainland into the lead in the 29th minute before second half goals from substitute Kassim Suleiman and Ibrahim Hamad sparked the comeback to lift Zanzibar to top of Group and claim the ‘Magufuli Derby’ bragging rights.
“The first half was a bit difficult for us but we came back psychologically upright to fight for three points. The boys played to instructions and ensured they converted the chances created,” Suleiman said.
His counterpart Ammy Ninje was visibly distraught as he bemoaned a lapse in concentration from his charges that allowed the Heroes to rally and then lead.
“We started well but the boys didn’t show the kind of desire and character like the opponents especially in the second half. Football is not about skills but the spirit and efforts you put in on the pitch. They fought to win and that’s what made the difference,” he lamented.
Ninje made two changes from the team that played to a 0-0 draw against Libya on Sunday as Himid Mao and Daniel Lyanga replaced Ibrahim Hajib and Mbaraka Abed in the midfield.
Zanzibar only slightly tinkered with the starting line-up that beat Rwanda 3-1 on Monday, benching Suleiman Kassim for Hamad Makame.
The Heroes should have struck first but Ibrahim Hamad failed to covert Issa Juma’s well-measured cross from the right flank.
The chance had come eight minutes after Kilimanjaro Stars had been forced to make an early change following Kelvin Yondan’s injury. Boniface Maganga replaced him.
Hamad was gifted yet another chance from close range but his effort off a Haji Mngwali cross was picked up by keeper Aishi Manula.
As Zanzibar’s efforts push for an opener faded, their opponent settled in the match to take the lead through Captain Mao who planted a low shot into the bottom corner.
Zanzibar were a rejuvenated side after the restart and should have drawn level in the 58th but Hamad came second best from a one-on-one situation with Manula.
Substitute Suleiman found the equaliser in the 67th before the same player turned provider 12 minutes later when his cross was turned in by Hamad.
In other matches, Libya were held to a 0-0 draw by Rwanda while Ethiopia lost 1-4 to Burundi in Bukhungu Stadium, Kakamega.
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