Heroic Stars in Cecafa final


Heroic Stars in Cecafa final
Ovella Ochieng (C) of Harambee Stars challenge Burundi goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana and defender Tresor Ndikumana during their Cecafa Senior challenge cup 2017 semi-finals match at Moi stadium in Kisumu on December 14, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

Heroic Harambee Stars stirred up hope of clinching a seventh Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup title after edging Burundi Swallows 1-0 in tough semi finals match played under scorching conditions at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu.

After a drab 90 minutes that gave no goal, Stars sprung to life in the fifth minute of extra time to shake the opposition’s net through Whyvonne Isuza’s strike,  eliciting wild jubilation from the fair crowd at the stadium.

Samuel Onyango was heavily involved in the build-up, cutting back from the left but Kepha Aswani missed to connect, allowing Isuza to make a left turn to blast home to the delight of the home fans.

Stars will now meet the winner between Uganda and Zanzibar in Sunday’s epic final to be staged at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.

Should the Cranes eclipse the Zanzibar Heroes, Sunday’s final will make for an engrossing duel as it will be a  rematch of 2012 when the Cranes overcame a James Nandwa coached Stars 2-1 at the Namboole Stadium in Kampala.

Harambee Stars players at water break during their Cecafa Senior challenge cup 2017 semi-finals match at Moi stadium in Kisumu on December 14, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.
Harambee Stars players at water break during their Cecafa Senior challenge cup 2017 semi-finals match at Moi stadium in Kisumu on December 14, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

The Swallows made the first meaningful attempt when Shassir Nahimana’s shot beat goalkeeper Patrick Matasi at the quarter hour mark, but captain Musa Mohammed was quick to clear it off the line.

Midfielder Ovellah Ochieng, who has become a regular fixture in Put’s team, wasted from a one-on-one with Jonathan Nahimana after dancing past defenders Omar Moussa and Piere Kwizera but razed his shot wide.

In the second stanza, Put was forced to bring on AFC Leopards’ Duncan Otieno for injured Mohammed who had handed Joakins Atudo the armband as he hobbled off.

Put also withdrew George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo for Kepha Aswani, seeking to enhance the team’s striking power with the Nakumatt FC player moving to the center as Vincent Oburu who had started in the position shifting to the left wing.

Atudo had been impressive as the back, marshalling the Kenyan defense in keeping the dangerous duo of Abdul Razak Fiston and Laudit Mavugo successfully St bay.

Aswani saw his effort from a header fly over the bar minutes before full time before the same player squared a sumptuous pass for Ochieng but the latter missed the target with only Nahimana to beat.

With no breakthrough in the regulation time, Stars were again forced into another substitution when AFC Leopards youngster Oburu was unable to continue after suffering a knock with Samuel Onyango replacing him moments after the resumption.

Onyango was the architect of the goal when it came, laying it behind the defence from the left wing and it fell perfectly for Isuza to have a swing at it onto the roof of Nahimana’s net.

Stars held onto the goal to sail through to the December 17 final, without conceding a goal thus far.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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