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Stars march into Cecafa semis

MAINLAND side, Kilimanjaro Stars labored to secure ticket into the semifinals of the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup after holding on to the challenge from Sudan, forcing a barren draw yesterday.

Kilimanjaro Stars’ passage to the last four was made easy by Kenya’s Harambee Stars, who had earlier beaten Zanzibar Heroes 1-0 in the final group B match at the KCCA Lugogo Stadium in Kampala, Uganda.

It means, Kenya finished top of the group on maximum nine points from three matches, while Kilimanjaro Stars settled second on four points from three matches.

Sudan came third on the group with two points from three matches, while Zanzibar Heroes finished bottom of the group with one point from three matches.

Kilimanjaro Stars will either face Uganda or Eritrea in the semifinal of the tournament as the winner of Group A is yet to be decided.

Juma Mgunda charges needed a win or draw and hope that Zanzibar fail to pick maximum points against Harambee Stars in their final group B match against Sudan, to confirm their place in the semifinals of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup Kilimanjaro Stars kicked off the match aggressively, determined to make it into semifinals.

However, they failed to turn into goals the chance created in both halves of the game.

The best chance came in 41st minute, when Hassan Dilunga raced down the flank and released a pass to Eliuter Mpepo, who also set up Ditram Nchimbi, the latter failing to hit the target.

Mid way in first half, Kilimanjaro Stars suffered a blow after attacker, Miraji Athuman, who was a constant threat to Sudan was forced to leave the pitch.

He picked a knock following nasty tackle by a Sudan defender and was replaced by Cleophace Mkandala.

In the second stanza, Sudan came in strongly looking to break the deadlock and had two good chances in the 63rd and 66th minutes respectively with Mudathir Othman missing one of the two chances.

Kilimanjaro Stars responded in the 73rd minute, when left wing back Gadiel Michael speculative shot almost caught Sudan goalkeeper off-guard but the custodian backtracked and managed to push the ball away for an abortive corner kick.

Nchimbi and Mpepo also missed clear cut chances in separate occasions. Mpepo was later replaced by Paul Nonga, whose introduction injected energy in the final third.

Nonga ought to have scored in the dying minutes of the game but his glancing header inside the box went agonizingly off target.

Kilimanjaro Stars are seeking their fourth CECAFA Challenge Cup trophy. They first won in 1974 after beating Uganda 5-3 in post-match penalties following 1-1 draw in regulation time.

In 1994 Mainland Tanzania beat Uganda in the final to win their second title. Again it was 5-3 victory in penalties after 2-2 draw in regulation time.

The last time Stars won the title was in 2010, when they beat guest side Ivory Coast in the final clash at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, with skipper Shadrack Nsajigwa netting the solitary goal through penalty.

In another group B encounter, last edition’s finalists, Zanzibar Heroes was shown the exit door by Harambee Stars after losing 1-0.

The defending champions went ahead in the 49th minute, when Oscar Wamalwa was on hand to register his second goal of the campaign.

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Mwandishi: SUNDAY NEWS Reporter

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