IT took overtime play for Kenya’s Harambee Stars to find a way past Burundi, winning 1-0 to reach Sunday’s Final of the 2017 Cecafa Challenge Cup. The semi-final on Thursday at Moi Stadium, Kisumu saw a great escape for the host team, fighting off mostly a Burundi onslaught for 90 minutes before conjuring the winner, a 97th minute strike by Whyvonne Isuza.
Harambee Stars’ tenacity was again evident as they played their fifth game without conceding a goal, the entire clean sheet reading Patrick Matasi in goal.
The Burundi Swallows on paper one of the most experienced teams among the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) members, will pinch themselves for failing to score against Kenya despite dominating the normal time play.
One of the outstanding Swallows was familiar with the Harambee Stars line-up. Abdoul Fiston Razak was previously at the Kenyan Premier League club, Sofapaka. He was particularly a thorn in the flesh of the Harambee Stars defense marshaled by veteran Jockins Atudo and skipper Musa Mohammed but Fiston could not find a way through. The other cornerstones of the Burundi team included captain Pierre Kwizera, Gael Duhayindavyi and Laudit Mavugo.
Burundi were thus denied making their second ever Challenge Cup final after their only one in 2004 where they lost 0-3 to home team Ethiopia. The Burundians were the losers of the semis in 1999, 2007 and 2008.
Kenya won the title at home in 2013 and will thus be making the second straight Final as hosts. They will know their Final opponents at Kenyatta Stadium Machakos on Sunday after Uganda and Zanzibar complete their semis on Friday in Kisumu, kick-off, 3pm.
Kenya 1-0 Burundi
Harambee Stars overcame an off–colour start, and although really never at the peril of being knocked out, needed extra time to claim a place in Sunday’s final.
Whyvonne Isuza, back in the starting line-up after coming off the bench in their last Group ‘A’ game with Tanzania Mainland in Machakos on Monday, produced the sole strike in extra time.
The victory was a good treat to the fair weekday crowd in Kisumu, a centre that before start of the tournament had been earmarked to host Group ‘A’ teams that were eventually shipped to Machakos.
The doubts were on whether Moi Stadium would cope with basic requirements of international football, including facilities for players and spectators at a stadium in which millions of public money has been poured in with little to show on refurbishment.
Environmental inconvenience has always troubled Moi stadium, a massive dumb-site being located just outside the walls. During the match Thursday, the stench from filth was evident and blinding smoke for smoldering fires at the dump drifted into the stadium.
Harambee Stars had to keep Burundi away from taking a deserved lead inside 20 minutes when Hussein Shaban came close, his effort crashing against the post.
One of the few Harambee Stars opportunities was Ovella Ochieng’ ghosting into the area but failing to beat Burundi ‘keeper Jonathan Nahimana.
In extra time play, Harambee Stars saw more urgency and eventually Isuza became the hero after pouncing on a Samuel Onyango delivery.
The Burundian response was instant with Fiston’s drive being turned behind for a corner. But the Kenyans were perfect in guarding their lead to the end.
KENYA – 18 Patrick Matasi: 2 Musa Mohammed (captain)/ (3 Duncan Otieno), 5 Jockins Atudo Otieno, 11 Dennis Nicholas Sikhayi, 19 Wesley Arasa Onguso, 8 Patillah Omoto Omutiti, 21 Whyvonne Isusa Kinayangi, 7 Ovella Ochieng’, 12 George Odhiambo Ogutu/ (9 Kepha Aswani), 20 Ernest Wendo Kisia, 14 Vincent Oburu Ouma/ (6 Samuel Onyango Ouma)
Reserves – 1 Boniface Oluoch Otieno (gk), 23 Gabriel Andika Akhonya (gk); 22 Said Tsuma Mwambeyu, 17 Bernard Ochieng’ Oginga, 10 Masoud Juma Choka, 4 Charles Saramu Momanyi, 15 Wellington Ochieng’, 13 Isaac Kipyegon, 16 Chrispin Oduor Ochieng’
Coach: Paul Put – (Belgium)
BURUNDI – 1 Jonathan Nahimana: 4 Pierre Kwizera (captain), 3 Rachid Leon Hererimana, 2 Tresor Ndikumana, 6 David Nsirimana, 15 Moussa Omar, 5 Gael Duhayindavyi, 10 Shassir Nahimana, 11 Hussein Shaban, 9 Laudit Mavugo, 7 Abdul Fiston Razak
Reserves – 20 McArthur Arakaza (gk), 18 Onesme Rukundo (gk); 13 Steve Nahimana, 14 Youssouf Ndayishimiye 19 Bienvenue Shaka, 16 Moussa Mossi, 8 Moussa Haphizi Herimana, 17 Cedric Urasenga, 12 Eric Ndoriyobija
Coach: Olivier A Niyungeko – (Burundi)
Referee: Ring Malong’ Akech – (South Sudan)
Assistant ref: Dick Okello – (Uganda)
Asst ref: Iddi Soudi – (Tanzania)
4th official: Nassor Mfaume – (Zanzibar)
Match commissioner: Rogers Byamukama – (Uganda)
Ref’s inspector: Celestin Ntagungira – (Rwanda)
-Additional reporting by Correspondents