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Eritrea close to first CECAFA semi in 25yrs

Eritrea’s Deyben Hintseab dribbled the ball past Djibouti’s Ali Youssouf during their CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup match at the Lugogo Complex on December 13, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 13 – Ali Suleiman Ibrahim struck a brace in the second half as Eritrea beat Djibouti 3-0 at the Lugogo Complex in Kampala on Friday afternoon to move to the brink of a first ever qualification to the semi-finals of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in 25 years.

Eritrea will just need a point in their final group match against Somalia on Sunday to confirm their place in the last four and will potentially set up a date with Kenya if they earn a point as well against Zanzibar on Saturday to finish top of Group B.

“I am very delighted because these are young players. Most of them are from Under-20 and looking at how they have played, it is amazing. We want to build on from this one and hopefully get to the final,” head coach Efrem Haille told Capital Sport.

Stars coach Francis Kimanzi and his assistant Zedekiah Otieno were present at the Lugogo Complex watching Eritrea as they anticipate a potential clash in Tuesday’s semi.

Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi follows the Eritrea vs Djibouti CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup match at the Lugogo Complex on December 13, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Djibouti’s hopes of making it into the semis now hinge on whether they can beat hosts Uganda on Sunday but still, their qualification will still rely on whether Eritrea lose to Somalia in their last game.

This was head coach Julien Mette’s third loss since he took charge of the team in June.

“It is a disgrace for us because today we did not play well. The senior players who were expected to offer leadership to the others failed today and we didn’t stick to our plan and play our game,” the French tactician stated.

Isayas Abreham gave Eritrea the lead inside 11 minutes with a neat finish from close range, taking advantage of some poor defending from the Djibouti backline.

They came close once again when Mubarek Khelifa broke away on the right but his ferocious shot was saved by the keeper with Robel Kidane heading the rebound wide.

Action between Eritrea and Djibouti during their CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup match at the Lugogo Complex on December 13, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

In the second half, Eritrea kept their dominance and they were 2-0 up after 68minutes when Suleiman scored the first of his two when he dribbled inside the box to slot the ball low into the left after Khelifa’s cross from the right was half heartedly cleared.

Six minutes from time, he completed his brace, once again thanks to some schoolboy defending from Djibouti. Suleiman picked the ball inside the area after Djibouti lost possession under no pressure before shooting past the keeper.

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