NAIROBI, Kenya, December 7 – Azam FC defender Jockins Atudo’s second half goal sent Harambee Stars to the semifinals of the GOtv Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup as champions Uganda crashed to the Kilimanjaro Stars of Tanzania as last-eight action kicked off on Saturday in the coastal city of Mombasa.
Kenya silenced the Amavubi Stars of Rwanda 1-0 in the evening game to join 10-man Tanzania who stunned the titleholders 3-2 on spot-kicks after their pulsating opener ended 2-2 in regulation time in an encounter Gor Mahia pair, keeper Ivo Mapunda and striker Dan Sserunkuma played decisive roles in the outcome.
After Sserunkuma gave the Cranes the lead in the 16th minute of the first half, his Kenyan Premier League champions team-mate, Mapunda had the last say when he saved his last spot-kick to send them crashing out of the competition.
At a packed Aga Khan Stadium in Mombasa that hosted both games, the hosts kicked-off the match on a high, with captain Allan Wanga connecting well with a Peter Opiyo cross in the first minute but his diving header went off target.
AFC Leopards winger Noah Wafula could have given Stars the opener, but he failed to utilize Aboud Omar’s cross.
Rwanda went closest in the 20th with a free kick by Emery Bayisenge that called keeper Duncan Ochieng into action before defender Anthony Akumu mopped up off the goal line.
A minute later KCB forward Jacob Keli, turned to find space in the Rwandan area but his well taken shot went straight to the Amavumbi custodian Jean Ndayishimiye.
Keli had another chance to score his second for the tournament but he failed to connect decisively with Wanga’s cross in the 28th.
Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche’s frustration with the attacking compelled him to make an early substitution, pulling out Wafula and bringing in Thika United midfielder Cliffton Miheso as the teams went to the break goalless.
Ten minutes after the breather, the hosts took the lead through Atudo who netted his third goal of the tournament from the spot after Michel Rusheshangoga handled in the box after Miheso and Wanga raided the Amavubi box with intent.
Amrouche brought in Gor duo of Edwin Lavatsa and Paul Kiongera as his charges were denied by Ndayashimiye in the dying minutes but the Atudo penalty was enough to set up a clash with Tanzania at the final whistle.
Kilimanjaro Stars converted their spot kicks through skipper Kelvin Yondani, Ramadhan Kiemba and substitute Idd Athumani as TP Mazembe striker Mbwana Samatta and Erasto Nyoni failed to find the back of the net.
Uganda on their side scored through Hamis Kiiza and captain Emmanuel Okwi, with Tusker FC midfielder Khalid Aucho, Godfrey Walusimbi and tellingly Sserunkuma wasting their shootouts.
The leading Gor marksman powered Cranes ahead in the 16th when he lashed on to a cross from the right to beat Mapunda at his near post with a deft finish.
Yanga star winger Mrisho Ngasa the took over, equalising a minute later after connecting with a Pius Michael pass before he notched his brace with a well struck free-kick to beat Cranes keeper Benjamin Ochan to send his side 2-1 ahead in the break.
In the 53rd Tanzania were reduced to ten men after Azam’s Salum Abubakar was booked for the second yellow card by referee Wiish Yabarow, from Somalia.
Uganda equalized in the 72nd through Martin Mpuga who connected home after Mapunda failed to hold Brian Majwega’s corner to force the match end to a 2-2 draw and head to penalties which Tanzania won 3-2.
The regional showpiece continues on Sunday with former African Champions, the Chipolopolo of Zambia taking on the Swallows of Burundi , before the Walia Antelopes clash with Sudan at Aga Khan Stadium in Mombasa County.