kenya juniors draw with sudan in cecafa opener

Aug 18, 2010

Kenya twice relinquished their lead to settle for a 2-2 draw with Sudan in their first Group “B” match at the Cecafa Under-20 Championship on Tuesday.

Jacob Keli put the Kenyans ahead in the 33rd minute before hesitant defending enabled Mohamed Abdel’s slow lob to go over ‘keeper Caleb Otieno in the 43rd minute and level for Sudan.

Second half substitute Raphael Muigai struck from a free-kick from the top of the penalty box to give the Kenyans the lead again in the 85th minute but they surrendered the opportunity of victory when Nadir el-Tayeb barged in to guide the ball home following a free-kick on the edge of the right flank taken for Sudan by, incidentally, his brother Yasir Eltayib.

On the second of four minutes added time, the ball eluded all Kenyan defenders to go past Otieno, amid protests that the Nadir had aided it with a slight touch of the arm.

But the goal stood for a result of the third match between the two countries in under four weeks. It left an intriguing situation in the five-team group of which only two teams will proceed to the semi-finals next Wednesday.

Kenya had beaten Sudan 2-0 in Khartoum and 1-0 in Nairobi during their recent Africa 2011 Under-20 Championship qualifiers.

Before Tuesday’s game, Sudan had already drawn their first match, 0-0 with Somalia, and were the side more desperate side for victory on the night. Now they must beat Eritrea on Thursday and Kenya on Monday to have any hopes of going through. For the Kenyans, victories over Somalia on Thursday and Tanzania on Saturday can keep them in the semi-final hunt before their do-or-die last fixture with Eritrea on Monday.

“We now have the feel of the tournament and we shall do well in the remaining fixtures. I see ourselves in the final,” said Kenya coach Vince Ombiji.

“I said before, playing a team you have beaten twice in a row is always difficult in the subsequent meetings. Sudan had learnt quite a lot about us but I am happy about the spirit of these boys.”

The fixtures had kept Kenya idle since arriving here last Wednesday night. “The wait was not good for the boys. They were too anxious but now they have got the flow,” Ombiji said.

However, the Kenyans will have to contend with the severe lack of depth in reserve should they suffer injuries. They arrived here with 18 players, opting to pack their contingent with seven officials instead. Other teams brought 20 players, and five officials each.

But now the Kenyans have 17 players following the expulsion of striker Paul Were who will be catching a flight home on Saturday.

It was the earliest flight that could be arranged for the 19-year-old Tusker and Harambee Stars international when the Kenyan management sanctioned him for indiscipline.

In the day's other match,Somalia registered their second unexpected draw at the tournament when they tied Tanzania 1-1.

Salum Abdul gave Tanzania the lead in the 37th minute but Qasim Sidoin baffled three defenders at the edge of the box on Tanzania’s left flank to hammer home the equaliser with a booming shot in the 55th minute.

Tanzania lost their 1-0 to Eritrea in the tournament’s opening game on Saturday. The Tanzanians were on the attack throughout the first half, forward Abdalla Bunu receiving plenty of balls in the box but missed chances in the ninth, 25th and 30th minutes. Issa Rashid should also have scored. But in all occasions, Somalia goalie Abdulahi Nur Ali made fantastic blocks.

However, it was Somalia with a good but brief opening stint, Ibrahim Ahmed coming close in the fourth minute. He had another crack at goal in the 31st minute.