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Stars finish fourth in Cairo tournament

By GILBERT WANDERA in Cairo

Kenya lost their second game to the Democratic Republic of Congo after going down 1-0 in the third position play-offs at Cairo’s Military Stadium.

Congo had won by a similar margin when the teams met in the preliminary stage of the Nile Basin tournament.

Despite the loss, the Kenyan team earn Sh4million in prize money after organisers made a last minute decision to reward all teams taking part in the competition.

Congo received the Sh8 million prize money for the third placed team. Congo took a first half lead in the 31st minute through Kasongo Ngando. It came at the end of an assault on the Kenyan defence.

Harambee Stars players huddle together after a training session at Kasarani before they left for Ethiopia. [PHOTO: JOHAN ONYANGO/STANDARD]

Joel Kimwaki’s throw-in found Ngando unmarked and he simply tapped the ball beyond the reach of Francis Ochieng’ in Kenya’s goal.

Before the goal, it was an evenly balanced contest and Kenya should have gone ahead on numerous occasions were it not for poor finishing.

Kenyan coach Zedekiah Otieno knowing he had nothing to lose opted for an all-out attack going into his last match of the competition after opting for a defensive strategy in earlier matches and it nearly paid off in the first half.

First Kevin Omondi had a brilliantly curved free-kick put out of play by Congo goalkeeper Kidiaba Muteba.

Then Patrick Oboya starting his first game in the tournament managed to break into the Congo defence at least twice but lacked that killer shot to put Kenya back into the match.

Kenya then survived a late second half attack as Ngando and Loffo Bongeli who scored when the Congolese side beat Stars 1-0 in the preliminaries found themselves unmarked in their half but failed to cause any damage.

Tusker forward, Dennis Mukaisi who had been ineffective in the first half was quickly substituted and Nairobi City Star’s Levi Muaka brought on in a move that ensured more balls were delivered to the opponent’s danger zone. Omondi forced Kidiaba out of his goal with a brilliant header as the Congolese conceded their first corner of the second half. The pressure was unrelenting on the Congolese goal as Kepha Aswani another second half substitute forced a save of the match from the TP Mazembe goalkeeper with a brilliant shot which hit the woodwork with Kidiaba just getting his finger tips on the ball.

Kenya also found themselves under constant pressure in the second half surviving just by a whisker. Mbangi Ndayia missed a clear goal watching in horror as his shot hit the post with Ochieng’ well beaten in the Stars goal.

Elsewhere, Rwanda has named a number of players from their World Cup-bound Under-17 side in the team to prepare for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Sudan from February 4.

Ghana-born tactician Sellas Tetteh has shown faith in captain Emery Bayisenge and sensational defender Faustin Usengimana, both who have impressed in the ongoing Africa Under-17 Championship here.

Rwanda has qualified for the Under-17 World Cup to be held in Mexico in June.