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Zanzibar hits Tanzania to go top of Group A

Ibrahim Ahmad (r) is joined by teammates in celebrating his winning goal against Tanzania. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

MACHAKOS, Kenya, Dec 7- Second half goals from Khamis Suleiman Khamis and Ibrahim Ahmad saw Zanzibar beat neighbors Tanzania 2-1 and move top of Group ‘A’ of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup with a 100 percent record, having shocked Rwanda 3-1 in their first match on Tuesday.

The islanders came from a goal down with Tanzania having broken the deadlock through Azam midfielder Himid Mao on the half hour mark.

Zanzibar occupy the apex with six points, two ahead of hosts Kenya whom they play on Saturday evening at the same venue.

Tanzania had hugely played second fiddle to their Zanzibar brothers in the opening minutes of the game, but were the first to break the deadlock when midfielder Mao picked up the ball after a one-two interchange of passes with striker Daniel Lyanga before shooting low past the keeper.

It was a huge heartbreak for Zanzibar who had dominated possession in the opening minutes, wowing the handful of fans at the Kenyatta Stadium with their precise passing and movement.

Zanzibar should have broken the deadlock in the 16th minute when an onrushing Hamad missed by a hair’s breadth Mohammed Issa Juma’s cross from the right, with only keeper Aishi Manula to beat.

Tanzania’s Muzamiru Yassin vies for the ball with Zanzibar’s Abdul Aziz Makame during a CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on December 7, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Hamad had another chance in the 21st minute when he controlled a Haji Mininya cross from the left but his shot unmarked inside the box was well collected by Manula in the Tanzania goal.

After going ahead, Tanzania grew in confidence and began to dominate the game more and impose their superiority over Zanzibar. Seeing his side being drained, Zanzibar coach Hemed Suleiman pulled oit Hamad Makame for Suleiman Kassim Selembe.

The islanders came back stronger in the second half and in the 57th minute they had a golden chance which they missed. Hamad put Mudathir Yahya through on goal with only the keeper to beat but the midfielder placed the ball wide.

Five minutes later, Mininya who had been enterprising on the left wing floated in a decent cross but Kassim Suleiman’s connection went over.

Their pressure finally bore fruit in the 67th minute when Suleiman drew them level after picking up Ibrahim Said’s cross from the right, outmuscling his marker inside the box and curling the ball beyond Aishi Manula in the Tanzania goal.

Twelve minutes later, they were away with the win when Hamad tapped in from a yard out after Selembe’s low cross from the left had evaded everyone inside the box.

Zanzibar defended with their hearts and held on for the priceless win.