Harambee Stars, Ethiopia all square in cecafa opener

By francis marangu
Nov 27, 2013
  • Harambee Stars' Anthony Akumu against Ethiopia Foad Abas. The match ended 0-0.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

Harambee Stars dropped two vital points after playing to a goalless draw with Ethiopia as the 2013 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup got rolling at the Nyayo National Stadium on Wednesday.

The Group A match saw Kenya dominate their opponents in both halves but could not find the back of the net. Head coach Adel Amrouche, who has expressed displeasure with how the team is being handled, was noticeably absent from the bench as his deputy James Nandwa took charge.

As early as the fourth minute, Stars created the first chance of the match when David Gateri failed to tap in from a goalmouth melee ensuing from Edwin Lavatsa’s crossed ball. Jockins Atudo had easily set up Lavatsa with a long ball from Kenya’s half.


Four minutes later, Anthony Akumu registered Kenya’s second attempt on goal but his long shot failed to get past Dereje Alemu at the Ethiopian goal.  


In the 12th minute, Ethiopia earned a free kick at the edge of the box after left fullback Aboud Omar fouled Tok James but the resultant free kick bore nothing.


Allan Wanga was on target in the 17th minute but his header went inches above the bar after a neat cross ball from Gateri.


A minute later, Ethiopia tilted possession after James dispossessed Lavatsa inside Kenya’s half but he shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.


Team captain Francis Kahata had his close range shot miss target with a follow up effort from Musa Mohamed’s ball that came off an Ethiopian player.  

 

Stars’s several near misses

 

Kahata and Akumu were guilty of squandering many opportunities as Kenya hit many shots off-target. Akumu and Peter Opiyo, the main men in the midfield, played too much from behind which gave the Ethiopians more room to contain Kenya’s attack. Playing a 4-5-1 formation, Stars seemed to struggle a lot in getting the ball upfront and their long balls went into waste.


Wanga, who played as the lone striker, retreated to the midfield in search of the ball severally while his position swaps with Kahata and Gateri failed to click. Omar and David Owino earned yellow cards in the opening half for rough play which slowed their aggressiveness as they opted to play with caution.


Opiyo’s shot in the 38th minute went wide after a hastily taken free kick following a foul against Kahata. Stars keeper Duncan Ochieng was tested by Bereket Yishak two minutes later after a defensive blunder by Atudo that could have seen Ethiopia take the lead going to the breather.


Ochieng had to stretch full length to pary the ball out for a corner in the clearest chance of the half. Moges Tadesse’s weak back pass to his goalkeeper nearly gifted Wanga the opener but Alemu was alert to clear.


Offensive second half

Kenya began the second half on an offensive note as Lavatsa had a quick run initiated by Kahata from restart but culminated in a goal kick for Ethiopia.

 

Lavatsa had another long shot saved by Alemu four minutes into the second half. Ethiopia’s penalty appeal in the 57th minute was wished away by the match referee after Omar was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area. There was panic at the Kenyan goal in the 60th minute when Atudo brought down Fasika Asfaw at the edge but the resultant free kick was harmless.


Stars made the first substitution of the match in the 75th minute as Jacob Keli replaced Gateri to hasten the goals search.

 

Three minutes later, Kenya suffered a major setback after right fullback Musa Mohamed was stretched off the field with a hamstring injury and replaced by Mulinde Munandi. Ethiopia had the best opportunity to break the stalemate at the stroke of full time but Asfaw had his low shot hit the crossbar.


Kenya and Ethiopia are tied second in the group with a point each while Zanzibar has taken an early lead with three points. Zanzibar beat South Sudan 2-1 in the other match of the group played at the same venue.


Day two action on Thursday heads to Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos where Group B matches will be played. Burundi will open the day's action with a match against Somalia at 2pm before guest team Zambia and Tanzania lock horns at 4pm.


Day One Results: Kenya 0 Ethiopia 0, Zanzibar 2 South Sudan 1; Day Two Fixtures: Group B- Burundi v Somalia (2pm), Tanzania v Zambia (4pm)