06 December 2017 09:21
Islanders Zanzibar produced the first shock of this year’s CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, beating Rwanda 3-1 at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Tuesday.
The result coming in Zanzibar’s first match of the tournament takes them to second in the group while Rwanda’s hopes of making it to the semi-finals were dashed after a second loss.
In the other Group A clash, host Kenya were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Libya but still maintained their grip on first place in the group.
Zanzibar meanwhile are savouring their prospects of being crowned champions at the end of the two-week tournament but coach Hemed Suleiman is not getting carried away.
“Rwanda is a good team and winning against them is such a morale booster for my young players. We were determined and we played like a unit. Our focus is now on one game at a time,” Suleiman said after the match.
Rwanda’s Antoine hey was gracious in defeat and justified his decision to change the whole team from the one that played against Kenya in the opener, insisting he wants to give a chance to every player to impress.
“We don’t have any other chance to prepare for CHAN (African Nations Championship) and this is our chance to give every player a platform and for us to analyze who will help us and who still needs a lot of work. I am disappointed with the result but I will not regret changing the team,” Hey said after the tie.
In the second half, Rwanda seemed to be fighting back after going a goal down in the first half. Muhadjiri Hakizimana cancelled out Mudathir Yahya’s first half opener, but the Rwandese went to sleep with Issa Juma scoring the second in the 52nd minute while Khamis Suleiman struck the winner with four minutes left.
In the other game, Kenya failed to score against an astute Libya side despite creating a few good chances.
“The result might not be pleasing but I am happy with how my players played today. In the second half we might have tired off a bit because of playing two games within three days, but I cannot blame my players. We take the result and move on,” Harambee Stars coach Paul Put said.
In Group B, Ethiopia went top after blanking South Sudan 3-0 in their opening match at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega.
The tournament takes a rest on Wednesday. On Thursday, matches will resume with a local derby, Tanzania taking on Zanzibar while Rwanda plays Libya both in Machakos. In Kakamega, Uganda plays South Sudan on Friday.