Stars off the mark in Cecafa with Rwanda win
The national football team Harambee Stars began their Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup title hunt with a comfortable 2-0 win over Rwanda as head coach Paul Put marked his managerial debut in dream fashion.
The Stars got the job done early with two first half goals thanks to Masoud Juma’s 26th minute opener from the spot and Duncan Otieno’s scorching screamer moments later.
Rwanda’s woes were compounded six minutes after the restart as they went a man down following Kayumba Soter’s red card to all but leave their fate sealed.
Substitute Kepha Aswani should have made it 3-0 after being teed clear on goal but came out second best from the one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Kenya dominated the opening proceedings and went ahead courtesy of Juma who rose to take the penalty responsibilities after Joakins Atudo had been fouled inside the area.
The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) golden boot winner made no mistake, sending the keeper the wrong way and the home fans at the packed Bukhungu Stadium into delirium.
Otieno gave the Stars the two goal cushion with a belter of a shot before Juma and George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo both spurned chances from close range heading into the breather.
Moments after the restart, Rwanda, coached by former Stars coach Antoine Hey, were reduced to 10 men after Soter Kayumba was sent off for second bookable offence.
Stars pressed higher looking to capitalize on their extra man advantage but were let down by ball poor ball control as rain began to fall.
On the terraces, fans escaping the rain beating overcame police and match stewards who were nonetheless lenient on them as they sought shelter at the main dais which had been reserved for VIPs only.
The rains subsided as the match approached the end, and Stars had few unconverted chances with substitute Aswani of Nakumatt FC coming closest in the 84th.
At the final whistle, enthusiastic fans marched around the stadium singing in praise of the Stars, other chanting Swahili slogans, ‘Put uko sawa, Put tano tena’. (With Put we are sorted, five years more for Put).
Stars have guests Libya next in line at the Kenyatta Stadium Machakos on Tuesday in their second group B match.
HARAMBEE STARS SQUAD
Starting XI Patrick Matasi, Dennis Sikhayi, Jockins Atudo, Musa Mohammed, Wesley Onguso, Patillah Omotto, Duncan Otieno, Whyvonne Issuza, Samuel Onyango, George Odhiambo, Masoud Juma.
Substitutes Boniface Oluoch, Gabriel Andika, Said Tsuma, Benard Ochieng, Kepha Aswani, Ovella Ochieng, Wellington Ochieng, Charles Momanyi, Vincent Oburu, Chrispin Oduor, Isaac Kipyegon, Ernest Wendo
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