The finals of this year’s CEAFA Senior Challenge Cup finally go down on Sunday December 17, 2017 at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, with hosts Kenya taking on a threatening Zanzibar side.
Zanzibar have been the surprise package in the tournament so far as not many thought that the team would reach this far. The Heroes kicked off their campaign with a 3-1 win over Rwanda before seeing off their brothers Tanzania 2-1.
They then held hosts Kenya to a barren draw but lost 1-0 to Libya in their final Group A match. The performance saw them finish second in the group and were as a result paired against Uganda in the semifinals.
In the semis, Zanzibar edged The Cranes 2-1 to book a semifinal ticket. Makame Hassan got them going with a goal in the 22nd minute before Derrick Nsibambi brought Uganda back into the game just nine minutes later. The Heroes however had the last laugh when Mohamed Issa ‘MO Banka’ buried home a penalty ten minutes into the second half to oust the defending champions.
The Suleiman ‘Morocco’ coached side will be hoping to have forward Suleiman Khamis and midfielder Amour Suleiman “Pwina” available for today’s match after missing the semis due to injuries. The two have played an integral part in Zanzibar’s group stage performances.
Hosts Kenya will be out for glory in Sunday’s match as they begin their journey under head coach Paul Put. The Belgian was appointed as Stars’ tactician just weeks before the tournament and is keen to lead the team to a second successive success on home soil.
The competition was last held in the country in 2013, where Allan Wanga’s brace against Sudan in the finals earned the hosts the regional trophy for the first time since 2002.
In the run-up to this year’s final, Harambee Stars had to toil hard to get a 1-0 victory over Burundi, with Whyvonne Isuza scoring the only goal of the game in extra time much to the relief of home fans.
The hosts had qualified for the semis following a 1-0 victory over neighbors Tanzania in their final Group A fixture on Monday December 11. Earlier, the team beat Rwanda 2-0 before registering barren draws against Libya and Zanzibar respectively.
Paul Put will bank on wingers George `Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Ovella Ochieng to keep the team going especially upfront, where they have had difficulties in converting chances in the previous matches. Kenya’s defence however looks pretty solid as they are the only side not to have conceded a goal so far in the tourney.