NAIROBI, Kenya, December 3 – Harambee Stars joined Ethiopia in qualifying for the quarter finals of the GOtv Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup following identical 2-0 wins over Zanzibar Heros and Southern Sudan on Tuesday at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru meaning a coin toss will decide Group A winners with the sides deadlocked on points, goal difference and head-to-head record.
“We have our objective to build this team to prepare for the next Nations Cup, we have not played any friendly and I can say we are really trying in this tournament.
“We gave (Noah) Wafula advice and directives he did not follow and that’s why I substituted him,” Stars tactician Adel Amrouche who dedicated the win to Nakuru fans who turned up in large numbers, said after another Jockins Atudo first half penalty and Allan Wanga neat finish in the second saw off the Heroes.
Zanzibar coach Salum Nassor blamed Cecafa organisers for playing the last pool matches on separate days alleging that results could be manipulated to see certain teams qualify to the last eight on the best third placed team ticket.
“Kenya has many pitches, so all the last matches of the groups could have been played at same time and day just like in England.
“The boys played very well but the referee was not fair, he contributed to my loss, all in all I have accepted the results and I congratulate both teams for a game well played,” Nassor who now waits to see whether the luck of the best losers will be on his side stated.
The hosts started the match on a high, with AFC Leopards duo of Wanga and Wafula and KCB’s Jacob Keli combining well to inspire Stars to their second victory in Group A.
Keli utilized his pace to tear apart the Zanzibar defense, leading Shafi Hassan to foul Francis Kahata in the box, and center referee Idam Hamid from Sudan did not hesitate to wave for a penalty that Azam midfielder Atudo net his second spot-kick to give Kenya the lead on five minutes.
The Heros responded immediately through Masoud Ali who blasted a shot that forced keeper Duncan Ochieng to punch for a corner-kick.
The Kenyan Premier League Golden Boot winner Keli was at it again in the 15th with a powerful strike that keeper Abdalla Rashid saved.
Stand in captain Wanga saw his shot blocked by the Zanzibari defense, but it was Peter Opiyo who could have added his name on the score sheet with his cracker that forced Abdalla to punch away in the 23rd.
Suleiman Kassim had a chance to equalize for the Heroes after receiving a pass from Masoud only for him to hit the side netting.
Ochieng was forced to deny Suleiman Khamis twice in succession as the hosts went to the brak a goal to the good.
Stars continued where they left, with Keli’s shot blocked before he blasted another one wide upon resumption.
Wanga received a fine pass from Keli, to unleash a cracker that beat Abdulahi to notch the second goal for Kenya in the 59th.
Amrouche brought in Clifton Miheso, David King’atua and Paul Kiongera to boost his attacking force but Keli who picked his second man-of-the-match award continued to be a menace to Abdulahi’s goal.
The Heroes could have pulled one back in the dying minutes through Salum Omar, but Ochieng was in top form to deny the attacker as Kenya sealed their place in the last eight.
It was not immediately announced when the tossing of the coin would be decided in the immediate aftermath of the game.
The regional showpiece continues on Wednesday with group B matches, where the Kilimanjaro Stars of Tanzania Mainland play The Swallows of Burundi before Somalia take on The Chipolopolo of Zambia at the same venue.