DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania, December 1- In the last few days, Harambee Stars players have made a fuss about lack of comforts in their team hotel in the baking hot Dar-es-Salaam where they are contesting the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
Fellow occupants and Group C rivals Sudan went about their business with minimum of fuss and the two teams will lock horns on Saturday starting 2pm in their final pool match where the loser could just as well pack and go home
A CECAFA official who declined to be named expressed reservations about the Kenyans attitude saying, “They should get on with the business that brought them here; playing football. Whining about small things like, no eggs, no fruits, is very cheap.”
On Wednesday afternoon when the skies open to let a deluge, Francis Kimanzi’s charges seemed to have ignored the unflattering playing conditions to resurrect their campaign which was dealt a cruel blow by Malawi who beat them 2-0 in their opener.
Their 2-0 win over Ethiopia was an all round display of a focused football team at the wet National Stadium in Dar.
Ethiopia humiliated the Kenyans under Jacob “Ghost” Mulee last year but Stars offered the perfect response to criticism after their opening day defeat against Malawi by outclassing their opponents who looked disjointed as well as incompatible with the conditions.
A repeat of a similar performance against a side that beat them to the LG Cup at home in June will result in the win that will seal their passage to the quarter finals on December 5 and 6.
Kimanzi wrought in a number of bold changes to the team beaten by Malawi, key of which was bringing in the rookie striker, Victor Ochieng’ of Chemelil.
Ochieng’ was on for 80 minutes during which he scored a goal on his Stars debut — converting a 40th minute corner from Kevin Kimani — and made fellow striker Bob Mugalia who was isolated on Monday comfortable.
Mugalia shot Kenya into the lead in the 11th minute before the lively Ochieng’ was fouled inside the box in the 38th and Kenya suffered the folly of giving their ‘star’ player the ball to take the spot kick.
Jamal Mohammed fluffed his effort high above the bar while captain Pascal Ochieng, the defender who rarely misses from the spot would have been a safer bet.
The Kenyans had a good tactical approach to the second half, consolidating their lead by a sensible defence while Mugalia’s intermittent raids pressed the Ethiopians back, stifling an all-out attack.
Even though he blundered once, putting his defence at risk, custodian keeper Duncan Ochieng’ had a great game repaying his coach’s faith in him after heavy criticism from the first match where he gifted Malawi a penalty.
Malawi 0 Sudan 0
Sudan became the only winless team in the Group C after being held 0-0 by Malawi in the second match of the day at the National Stadium.
It was good news for Stars who would qualify for the quarter finals by forcing Sudan to a draw in their last group match on Saturday.
Sudan, the only Cecafa country that have qualified for the 2012 African Cup of Nations ended up badly frustrated after failing to take command in yet another encounter.
They had drawn 1-1 with Ethiopia on Monday when head coach Mohamed “Mazda” Abdallah was away in Cairo attending a CAF administration diploma course.
He arrived in Dar-es-Salaam early Wednesday morning to be in charge in the afternoon match.
But in the second half, he vented his frustration on referee Hudu Munyemana’s decisions and was sent away from the touchline.
He claimed there was a conspiracy to obstruct his team from victory. “I have the best team in this region; the only one going to AFCON, but we cannot show our ability if refereeing is bad,” he told SuperSport in post-match interview.
Djibouti 0 Tanzania Mainland 3
On Tuesday, Tanzania Mainland’s Kilimanjaro Stars bounced back from last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Rwanda to beat Djibouti 3-0 and earn opportunity to qualify for the knockout stage from ‘A’.
The home team’s victory came as a relief to local fans who were left enraged by the opening performance of coach Charles Boniface Mkwasa’s team.
Half of Tanzania was apprehensive even at kick off, booing the team as it entered the pitch.
Interestingly, none of the 11 starters were from the champion club, Young Africans, whose supporters traditionally occupy half the stadium.
The Kilimanjaro Stars starters were mainly from Yanga’s bitter rivals, Simba and other minor clubs. But the irony was coach Boniface’s boldness in going in with whom he thought fitted his strategy.
Fans would not have missed the fact that the coach is a national icon who played, captained and coached his beloved Yanga, but this time, national good came first.
It was only during substitution that two Yanga players, Geoffrey Taita and Nurdin Bakari, were introduced.
Simba front man, Thomas Ulimwengu was put through by Mussa “Mgosi” Hassan who plies his trade at DC Motema Pembe in the Democratic Republic Congo to give Kilimanjaro Stars a quick third minute goal.
Hassan and Ramadhan “Redondo” Chombo (Azam FC) then wasted chances in the seventh and eighth minutes as the hosts took complete charge. It was just a matter of time before they doubled their lead.
They made it 2-0 in the 37th minute when Mwinyi Kazimoto (Simba) shot from a long distance. Substitute Hussein Javu (Simba) made it 3-0 six minutes to time.
Rwanda 2 Zimbabwe 0
In Group A match on Tuesday, Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars joined Uganda Cranes (Group B) in quarter finals after inflicting a 2-0 defeat on Warriors of Zimbabwe at the National Stadium.
Zimbabwe enjoyed the lion’s share of the first half, went close several times in the first 15 minutes, but to no avail.
Donald Ngoma missed what could have been the opener for Zimbabwe in the seventh minute when his close range effort went straight into the waiting hands of goalie Jean Claude Ndori.
After the shaky start, Rwanda took the game to their opponents and broke the stalemate when Meddie Kagere made a double hit, first in the 25th minute, before wrapping it up in the 81st.