The Belgian head coach who missed the 0-0 opener against Ethiopia with illness sparking speculation about his future rung in the changes bringing in James Situma and Aboud Omar at the back with domestic league Golden Boot winner Jacob Keli and
AFC Leopards Noah Wafula who were instrumental in the victory shoring up the attack.
“I’m very happy with the team especially playing with two strikers which really worked, I respect Southern Sudan since they played very well, they have a very good striker who scored the goal but the moment he was withdrawn, I was pleased because it enabled defender (David) Owino to overlap and eventually, he gave us the winning goal.
“We are now focusing on our next match against Zanzibar, I know it will be a tough match but we will prepare for them and improve on our mistakes,” assistant coach James Nandwa said after the victory that lifted the hosts to four points, same as Ethiopia who stuffed the Islanders 3-1 in the other Saturday Group A encounter.
Zanzibar are on three and still not out of contention for the quarterfinals with Sudan propping the rear after two loses.
“The boys have done a good job bearing in mind that I was only given two weeks to prepare this team.
“We managed to hold Kenya on their turf and I promise if I get more time, I will beat them since I know how they play,” the Southern Sudan coach Balanga Bandua who was recently appointed stated.
Azam defender Joackins Atudo gave Kenya the lead in the 17th minute through a penalty after Jimmy Eresto handled in the box and referee Waziri Sheha from Zanzibar did not hesitate to point to the spot.
The hosts almost doubled the lead two minutes later but Allan Wanga who wasted Keli’s great pass by shooting straight at Juma Jinaro.
The visitors, who were participating in their second international tournament, equalised through skipper Richard Lado via a long range shot that caught keeper Duncan Ochieng flat-footed in the 26th.
Three minutes later Stars were at it again through Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Player of the Year Keli, who found the back of the net after connecting with Wafula’s cross to put them back on the lead.
The KCB marksman now on high demand thought he had notched his brace in the 31st but saw the goal ruled for offside after being put through by Wanga.
South Sudan brought in Edmond Amadeo for Wol Bor Yol as Kenya pressed on for more but the half time whistle with the hosts 2-1 up.
Clifton Miheso then saw his shot miss the target by a whisker after combining with Francis Kahata in the 57th for Kenya’s first clear opportunity of the second period.
South Sudan had a chance to level matters in the 64th but their free kick was cut off by Situma.
Atudo had a chance to score his double from the spot after the Southern Sudan Keeper fouled Keli in the box, but his penalty was easily saved by Jinaro in the 69th.
Eight minutes later, KPL champions Gor Mahia defender Owino skilfully directed a low shot into the back of the net for the third after he charged upfront as hundreds of Stars fans went into raptures.
Amrouche made three substitutions that came in the dying minutes with Edwin Lavatsa for injured Keli, David King’atua coming in for Wafula but the time did not allow them to add to the tally.
In the earlier kick-off, the Walia Antelopes beat Zanzibar 3-1 with Fasika Asfan, opening the scores in the fifth minute before Salahdin Bargecho, doubled the lead from the spot in the 37th.
Zanzibar pulled one back through captain Awadh Juma Issa, in the 68th but it was substitute Yonatan Kebede’s, 86th minute header that left the Islanders well beaten.
Stars next face Zanzibar while Ethiopia plays South Sudan on Tuesday at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos County.
In Sunday’s fixtures, Kilimanjaro Stars of Tanzania will be up against Somalia before Burundi takes on the Chipolopolo of Zambia at Nyayo National Stadium in Group B.