MACHAKOS, Kenya, Dec 9- Abeddy Birahimire stepped off the bench to hit a second half winner as Rwanda’s Amavubi bowed out of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup on a high, beating Tanzania 2-1 at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos in their only win of the tournament.
Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Stars who are on one point play Kenya in their final group match on Monday, but their fate is more or less sealed and they will follow Rwanda out of the tourney.
Rwanda broke the deadlock through Innocent Nshuti, but the Tanzanians fought back to draw level via a Daniel Lyanga diving header. However, Antoine Hey’s men produced a brilliant move in the 65th minute, ending in Birahimire tapping the ball home.
As they head back to Kigali, Hey has picked up some valuable notes as he prepares the team for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) next month in Morrocco.
The CHAN bound Amavubi started the match on a high, Hey maintaining the same squad that played against Libya save for keeper Eric Ndayishimiye who paved way for Marcel Nzarora, with the tactician saying he wanted all his three keepers to play.
Muhadjiri Hakizimana and Eric Rutanga had the first two close chances for Rwanda, first Hakizimana heading inches wide from the edge of the six yard box while Rutanga had a curling freekick from the right go inches wide.
They broke the deadlock in the 18th minute when Nshuti side footed the ball home inside the box from a Fitina Omborenga cross from the right.
Tanzania’s Ibrahim Ajib came close to giving Tanzania the lead but his curling freekick from the left came against the side netting.
Coming off the break on level terms, it was going to be anyone’s game with the two sides fighting for pride.
Four minutes into the restart, Tanzania’s Ajib forced a brilliant save off the Rwandese keeper after dribbling past his markers inside the box before finding space, shooting on target with a ferocious low right footer.
Three minutes on the turn, Lyanga was presented with a brilliant opportunity when Ajib’s cross from the left found him unmarked inside the box, but the burly forward could not execute a shot on target, firing the ball over from close range.
It seemed to be a period of epic misses as three minutes later Rwanda missed an equally open chance.
Hakizimana was gifted with the ball on the left after Himid Mao missed a clearance, but the Rwandese forward took too much time with the ball allowing the Tanzanians to fall back and his eventual go at goal was a curling effort which went miserably wide.
But his blushes were wiped in the 65th minute when Omborenga registered his second assist of the game, making a brilliant move on the right with a deft touch which left his marker gasping for breath and the crowd wowing in amazement.
Lifting his head up, he cited Birahimire and Djihad Bizimana racing into the box, sliced in a wonderful cross which Birahimire gladly slid in to tap into an empty net.
On the opposite end, keeper Nzarora almost undid all this great work when his delayed clearance was blocked by Tanzanian forward Lyanga, but luckily, the ball spiraled away from goal.
Nzarora redeemed himself with a one on one save off Yahya Omari who had picked up the loose ball from the left. The shot stopper once again pulled off a decent save to punch away a shot from substitute Yohana Oscar.