04 December 2017 08:49
Hosts Kenya began their 2017 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup campaign positively beating Rwanda 2-0 in Kakamega, western part of the country, to go top of Group A, with Libya and Tanzania playing to a barren in the other group tie played in Machakos, 45km away from the capital city, Nairobi.
Harambee Stars playing at the newly refurbished Bukhungu Stadium brought life to the venue that hasn’t seen much football for the last three years after it was closed down for renovations. Duncan Otieno and Masud Juma scored in the opening half, giving new coach Paul Put a perfect start.
“It was good to see the players playing with heart and dedication. It was not the exact way I wanted us to play but I will take the victory. We have a lot of work to do and now focus is on the next game against Libya,” Put said after the match.
Skipper Musa Mohammed was elated with the victory and said it was a dedication to the fans who had come out in their numbers to support them.
“The first game is always key and winning today gives us a good start. Hoping we can maintain this kind of performance moving forward. We are a new team and we will continue building cohesion as we progress,” the skipper said.
Rwanda coach Antoine Hey is using the tournament as part of his preparation for the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) next year and he fielded most of the players who will be in action in Morocco next January.
Captain Eric Ndayishimiye was pleased with the performance.
“We are a squad of young players who are building up and hopefully, the mistakes we had today will not be repeated. It was a bad start but I am confident we can improve,” the skipper noted.
Kenya broke the deadlock after 24 minutes from the penalty spot after Jockins Atudo was tagged down inside the box by Soter Kayumba. Juma stepped forward and converted to give Kenya the lead.
The forward who was Kenya’s top scorer in the just concluded Premier League season should have had a second after being put through unmarked by Whyvonne Isuza but his shot skied over the bar.
But almost a minute later, Stars were 2-0 up. Some good movement from the Stars saw Odhiambo cross the ball from the left, Isuza setting up Otieno who took a thunderbolt from 30 yards out, leaving keeper Ndayishimiye well beaten with no chance.
Amavubi were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Kayumba was sent off for a second bookable offense. Despite the disadvantage, the Rwandese piled pressure on Kenya but they couldn’t crack the defense to get a shot at goal.
The tournament enters the second day on Monday with Uganda taking on Burundi at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega Western Kenya while Rwanda and Kenya return to Machakos, 45km outside the capital city Nairobi city for their second group matches on Tuesday.
Kenya 2-0 Rwanda
Libya 0-0 Tanzania