NAIROBI, July 25 – Kenya Premier League Champions Tusker are through to the final of the East and Central Club (CECAFA) championships after a hard fought 1-0 win over Tanzania’s Yanga in Dar es Salaam on Friday.
A 54th minute goal by Simon Mburu was enough for the brewers who put up a sterling rearguard action to emerge victors in an ill tempered match.
Towering defender Joseph Shikokoti was immense in defence winning everything in the air while goalkeeper Boniface Otieno stopped everything the losers threw at him.
Niggly fouls, play acting and time wasting characterised the second half with more than seven minutes of added time increased the tension but the brewers held their nerve to win.
They will now play Uganda’s URA who beat Tanzania’s other representatives Simba by a similar score line on Thursday.
Tusker were quicker off the blocks and Mburu should have put Tusker ahead after just seven minutes but Yanga defender Wisdom Ndlovu cleared the ball off the line.
Ndlovu almost gave the losers the lead at the other end heading over an Athumani Idd corner after 18 minutes.
Harambee Stars striker Boniface Ambani should have given Yanga the lead with three presentable chances as the local boys dominated. First he headed a Nurdin Bakari freekick horribly wide from close range.
The lanky striker then latched onto a Shamty Ally through ball, dribbled past Tusker goalkeeper Boniface Otieno but Humphrey Okoti recovered to clear his shot off the line.
A lightening counter attack orchestrated by Kigi Makasi presented him with a third chance but his ferocious shot flew just wide.
Ambani limped off after a challenge from behind by Okoti a couple of minutes later and was replaced by Gaudence Mwakimba. On their part, Tusker threw on Crispin Obuya for Jeffery Oyando.
Tusker began the second half on high tempo pressing their hosts back and John Keo should have put them ahead only to screw his shot after great work by Justus Anene down the left.
They got their goal they desperately wanted when a series of intricate passes created a chance for substitute Obuya and though the goalkeeper saved his low shot, Mburu was on hand to force the ball home.
Sensing defeat, Yanga poured forward in search of an equaliser with Bakari forcing Otieno to a great save on 67 minutes. Abdi Kassim then tested the Tusker goalkeeper with a curling freekick from just outside the area but he was equal to it.
Tusker suffered a huge fright with nine minutes to go when Shamte put Mwakimba through on goal but Otieno raced out of his goal to stem the danger.