Cecafa Challenge: Thousands of fans turn up at Bukhungu as Senior Challenge Cup kicks off

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Monday, December 4th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee stars vs Rwanda- Kakamega Harambee stars players celebrates their win against Rwanda at Bukhungu on December 3, 2017 during CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup. BY BENJAMIN SAKWA

Harambee Stars sting Wasps of Rwanda

Massoud penalty and Otieno’s screamer take the wind out of Amavubi sails as Tanzania and Libya draw in Machakos.

Paul Put made a winning start to his reign as Kenya’s football team coach with a 2-0 victory over ten-man Rwanda in yesterday’s opening Group A Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup match at a packed Bukhungu Stadium.

At Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos, Tanzania and Libya settled for a goalless draw in the second match of Group.

In Kakamega, Kenyan Premier League golden boot winner Masoud Juma put Harambee Stars ahead from the spot before AFC Leopards captain Duncan Otieno’s screamer gave Kenya a two-goal cushion.

A second-half downpour could not stop the hosts from giving their new coach Put a warm welcome.

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Difficult pitch

“Despite the bad state of the pitch, I’m proud of my players for giving me that perfect gift. It was a difficult pitch for both teams to play on, but it was important to get a positive result in our first match of the tournament,” said a visibly excited Put.

“Our focus now shifts to another equally tough game against unpredictable Libya on Tuesday.”

Duncan Otieno was equally happy after scoring his first goal on his second national team appearance.

“I thank God for everything. Since we are at home, we must do everything to win the title,” said Otieno.

But it was not a happy reunion for former Kenya coach Antoine Hey, whose visiting Amavubi side finish ed the game a man less after Soter Kayumba was sent off in the 53rd minute after receiving a second yellow card for bad-mouthing the assistant referee. The German went on to snub the press after the clash.

CECAFA 2017 Tanzania"s Shiza Yahya (left) and Mohamed Amer of Libya during CECAFA Challenge Cup at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County. Dec 3, 2017. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Fine save

Both teams started the match cautiously, but it was the Rwandese that threatened first in the second minute, but goalkeeper Patrick Matasi did well to save Djihad Bizimana’s free kick.

George Odhiambo then drew a fine save from Amavubi goalkeeper Eric Ndayishimiye in the ninth minute.

After a series of raids, Kenya’s efforts finally paid off in the 25th minute through Masoud’s penalty after Kayumba fouled Joackins Atudo in the box.

Rwanda responded immediately, but Matasi parried away Eric Tiradukunda’s effort before Odhiambo wasted another chance on their opposite end.

Abedy Biramahire combined well with Justin Micu but the former’s attempt missed the target by inches.

Wyvonne Isuza then teed up club-mate Duncan Otieno, in the 36th minute, who unleashed a screamer past a hapless Ndayishimiye to hand Kenya a 2-0 half-time lead from which the Stars never looked back.

Mabel Manishimwe could have pulled a goal back for the visitors three minutes after the break but his feeble shot was easily gathered by Matasi before Kayumba was sent off.