KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 14 – Oscar Wamalwa scored the lone goal in the second half asHaranbee Stars beat Zanzibar 1-0 to finish the group stages of the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup with an unbeaten record.
Wamalwa slapped the ball home from inside the box three minutes after the restart after Musa Masika’s shot was blocked.
The victory sees Kenya finish with nine points and will face whoever finishes second from Group B.
Going into the tie, Zanzibar were in a must win situation while Stars had already qualified to the last four and only needed to avoid defeat to the islanders to progress top of the pile.
Assistant coach Zedekiah Otieno had made six changes to the squad that started against Sudan. Andrew Juma was handed a debut in defense in the place of Johnstone Omurwa while Musa Masika, Daniel Sakari and Roy Okal were all handed a starting role.
Abdallah Hassan was drafted back into the starting team playing out wide while Masika played the number 10 role while Anthony Wambani came back into the team to play the midfield role alongside Okal.
Just as expected, Zanzibar were faster off the blocks as they searched for an early goal to settle their nerves. A mistake at the back by Stars gifted Haruna Abdullah of the ball in the 13th minute inside the box, but Juma was quick to race back and shield him off a scoring chance.
Ten minutes later, Zanzibar had another chance when Omar Abubakar swung in a volley from the right and keeper Samwel Odhiambo had to be alert to tip it behind for a corner.
Stars were good on the ball, but the pressing and urgency of the Zanzibar side with Abdul Aziz Makame’s prowess in the middle of the pack being a constant pain.
However, in the second half, Stars were more alert and just three minutes in, they had gone ahead. Wamalwa picked up a lose ball after Masika’s shot off a cross from Hassan was blocked and the lanky Ulinzi man did the rest to sweep the ball home.
The goal lifted Stars’ spirits and they were more affluent moving forward. Masika had twin chances, first with a stinging shot from close range that was saved by the keeper while almost immediately, he tried his luck with a shot from range that was also well gathered.
Wamalwa almost made two for himself when the keeper spilled a cross from Masika, but he was unlucky as the effort was blocked at the edge of the six yard box.
With the clock ticking and an exit looking likely, Zanzibar pushed more bodies forward, but they couldn’t get that one goal to revive their hopes.