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Stars thrash Chinese Taipei in Heroes Cup

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Harambee Stars players celebrate a goal during their first Heroes Intercontinental Cup game against New Zealand on June 3, 2018. PHOTO/Indian Super League

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8- Defender Jockins Atudo scored twice as Harambee Stars sailed to the final of the Heroes Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai, India after a 4-0 win over Chinese Taipei in their final round robin match on Friday evening.

After a goalless first half, Sebastien Migne’s charges turned on the style in the second half with Dennis Odhiambo opening the gates before Atudo stretched the lead from the penalty spot. Timothy Otieno scored in between Atudo’s first and second goals to see Stars finish second in the first round.

Kenya will now face India in the final on Sunday with the hosts having finished top with six points and a superior goal difference.

Stars also edged out New Zealand on goal difference with the Pacific nation having beaten the hosts 2-1 yesterday to mean Kenya had to beat Chinese Taipei by more than three goals to advance.

After a lackluster opening half, Migne’s charges upped the tempo in the second half, knowing only too well that an appearance in the final depended on their ability to strike thrice in 45 minutes.

Harambee Stars midfielder Duncan Otieno attempts to close down Chinese Taipei’s Ting-Yang Chen during their Heroes Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai, India on June 8, 2018. PHOTO/Indian Football Federation

It was the Chinese Taipei men who started the half more industriously though and in the 52nd minute, Stars keeper Patrick Matasi was forced into a good save to deny Ting-Yang Cheng who had shot at goal from a Cheng-Ming Wang’s cross.

On the turn, Kenya opened the scoring. Odhiambo who had been started in midfield alongside Duncan Otieno turned in a corner from Ovella Ochieng after the keeper had turned behind a delicious curling effort from Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma.

Just two minutes later, Stars were within kissing distance of the final after Atudo converted from the spot following the keeper’s foul on Piston Mutamba inside the box.

Stars piled the pressure winning five consecutive corners but couldn’t make any of them count.

Migne made changes bringing on John Mark Makwatta for Mutamba and the Buildcon striker had a shot from his weaker left foot in the 62nd minute deflected for another unfruitful corner.

But Stars ensured they sealed a spot in the final in the 70th minute when Otieno capitalized on some school-boy goalkeeping from Chinese Taipei shot stopper Wen-Chen Pan to strike into the net, the keeper having come out and missed a clearance.

Atudo sealed the tie in the 89th minute when he pounced on another goalkeeping error to tap home at close range after the custodian spilled Mike Kibwage’s connection from a Makwatta freekick.

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