CECAFA:Ulinzi knock out Cup holders APR of Rwanda

Jul 03, 2011

Kenya League champions Ulinzi Stars qualified for the quarter finals of the Cecafa Kagame Castle Cup, but only after a dogged 0-0 draw with title holders APR of Rwanda in Group ‘C’ action in Morogoro,Tanzania.

On the penultimate day to the end of the pool stage, teams played in frantic pace in front of ecstatic fans at both Morogoro and Dar es Salaam where Group ‘B’ fixtures also concluded.El Mereikh of Sudan beat Elman of Somalia 3-0 in the early kick-off at the National Stadium to put the Sudanese on top of the table.  

Then there was drama as local giants Young Africans grabbed the top spot by leading Bunamwaya 2-0. But the Ugandans had a stunning fight-back levelling 2-2 by the 77th minute to go top. However, Yanga brought the house down with the winning goal, two minutes into injury time. They probably escaped the mathematical chance of meeting Dar great rivals Simba, in the quarter finals. Simba will need to beat Red Sea of Eritrea on Sunday to make absolutely sure of avoiding Yanga in the quarters. 

Ulinzi Stars stood tall in a do-or-die match, fighting off the disadvantage of having a man sent off, to draw 0-0 with APR of Rwanda.The Defending champions’ only option was victory while the Kenyans needed at least a draw in the all-soldiers’ clash.

From kick-off, APR were on the front but impressive goalkeeping by Jacktone Odhiambo saved Ulinzi from early threats as was the case throughout the match. Odhiambo even saved a Mbuyu Twite penalty on 25 minutes. In the seventh minute Odhiambo saved a Victor Nyirenda powerful shot and in the 21st minute, he produced another fine clear-out from a Jean Claude Iranzi pin point shot. Two minutes later, referee Ibada Ramadhani Kiboo of Zanzibar handed APR a penalty after defender Josiah Odhiambo handled the ball but the Ulinzi ‘keeper expertly saved. 

Ulinzi had more chances in the second half and in one of the open ones, Stephen Waruru saw his powerful shot come off the post. The Kenyan strategy was to be destabilised when their hard working skipper, Josiah Odhiambo had to limp off from his defence duties in the 70th minute and Richard Chege replaced him.

 Ulinzi coach Benjamin Nyangweso was delighted, saying: “Knocking out a side like APR, the defending champions, wasn’t easy.

The players held on despite the setbacks.” Ernest Brandts of APR said: “I am disappointed as we could not utilise the many chances we created. Leaving the tournament so early is very bitter but in football you win some, you lose some. The team will take a break as this was our last tournament after eleven months of competition.” 

The Kenyans, by finishing second in the group won by St George of Ethiopia -- who routed Ports of Djibouti 7-0 on the final group play -- will have a daunting task of facing El Mereikh of Sudan during the quarter finals in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.   


Sportsnewsarena Correspondent

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