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Kenya U18 storm into CECAFA final

Tuesday, December 5th, 2023 20:32 | By
Part of the thrilling action between Kenya’s Junior Stars and Tanzania in the semi-final of the CECAFA Under-18 boys yesterday. Team Kenya qualified for the finals after edging out Tanzania 4-3 in the penalties. PHOTO/FKF
Part of the thrilling action between Kenya’s Junior Stars and Tanzania in the semi-final of the CECAFA Under-18 boys yesterday. Team Kenya qualified for the finals after edging out Tanzania 4-3 in the penalties. PHOTO/FKF

Kakamega Homeboyz goalkeeper Ibrahim Wanzala was the hero for Kenya after he saved two penalties to help the Junior Stars defeat Tanzania 4-3 and qualify for the final of the CECAFA U18 Boys Championship at the Jomo Kenyatta Stadium in Kisumu.

The closely fought semi-final contest had ended 0-0 in normal and extra time. The winner, to face Uganda, who had already defeated Rwanda 1-0 in the other semis, had to be decided on penalties.

Tanzania took the first penalty which was coolly converted by Benjamin Ramadhan, and Kenya’s Collins Omondi, who had come on as a second-half substitute, stepped up to slot home their first kick for the Junior Stars.

Said Said took the honors for Tanzania’s second penalty but Wanzala dived the right way to make a great save. Amos Wanjala then made it 2-1 for Kenya before Inja Dida scored for Tanzania for a 2-2 result.

Kenya had the chance to make it 3-2 but Stanley Omondi saw his weak effort saved by goalkeeper Anthony Pemba. Falice Ingunde then scored Tanzania’s fourth penalty, and Kenya responded with Humphrey Aroko doing the same for the Junior Stars. Wilson Shariff then came in for Tanzania’s fifth penalty, but Wanzala pulled off another great save to keep Kenya’s hopes alive.

Wanzala’s great heroics left the honors for Syphas Otieno to take Kenya to the final, and he took the initiative to plant his penalty past Pemba to the delight of a huge crowd at the venue.

In the early fixture, Uganda booked their place in the final after edging Rwanda 1-0 courtesy of Abubaker Mayanja’s second-half strike at the same venue.

It was Uganda, who were the better side from the opening exchanges, and they should have taken the lead in the 12th minute when Richard Okello was denied by Rwanda goalkeeper Yvan Ruhamyanyiko from close range.

The young Amavubi recovered from the early threat and created a chance of their own, and they had a strong appeal for a penalty when captain Abdu Magada clashed with Elisa Tinyimana inside the danger zone, but Somalia referee Alamin Alhadi Alamin waved play on.

With 10 minutes left to the half-time break, Uganda almost broke the deadlock when Abasi Kiyeyenu latched onto a cross from Travis Mutyaba, but Ruhamyanyiko covered the goal line well before punching the ball out for a fruitless corner.

In the second half, Uganda coach Morley Byekwaso brought in Denis Kisiriko, and immediately after coming on, he started the move which resulted in the goal.

His first touch saw him lay the pass to Kyeyune, whose left-footed effort was punched back to play by Ruhamyanyiko, but Mayanja reacted quickly to drive it into the net.

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