After crushing Tanzania 3-2 on Monday, the Kenya COPA U17 team pulled off yet another win over an East African neighbor with Uganda being on the receiving end this time.
The teams went into the match eager to protect their egos which has been built over the years. By the end of the final whistle, it was the Kenyans who were celebrating as the dejected Ugandans were left cursing on a day that they lost all their three matches.
Coach Arthur Apiyo who kept the same line-up that drew 0-0 with Zambia’s Chipolopolo had advised his boys to keep the ball on the ground and this seemed to work magic as Uganda were at times put in sixes and sevens. The Cranes played long ball over the Kenyan defence which was guarded by the unplayable Garissa-born Sadam Abdulahi and Chavakali High School defender Christopher Oruchum who played in central defence with Kevin ‘Lule’ Otieno on the right and James Mazembe on the left.
Kenya opted to attack from the wings given the stalwartness of the Ugandan central defence and this paid off just five minutes into the match when Eugene Moses gave a defence-splitting pass from the right into the feet of Geoffrey Alwala who crossed for Castro Mwaura to tap in his and Kenya’s first.
The Kenyan team looked completely different from the one that went down 1-0 to Mozambique earlier in the day and were pressing the Ugandans high on the pitch. The Cranes wouldn’t sit back though and they equalized five minutes later after some wanting defending from the Kenyan side as the half ended 1-1.
Coach Arthur withdrew Castro Mwaura and Ramadhan Abdulmalik for Mohamed Said and Omar Mwinyi and the latter would win Kenya a penalty earlier in the second half after his shot was handled in the box by a Ugandan player. Eugene Moses stepped up and hit it low to the left of the keeper to convert his second penalty in the competition and make it 2-1 for Kenya.
The Cranes huffed and puffed to draw level but the Kenyan team was tight save only for a hair-raising moment in the final minute when goalkeeper Edwin “Chairman” Mukolwe misjudged the flight of the ball which found the feet of a Ugandan player who connected but it flew just inches wide.
Team Kenya now has 8 points after collecting a similar four points on Tuesday. Tanzania is in a good position as they lead the standings with 13 points going into the final day of the matches. The Serengeti Boys also beat Uganda 2-1 with Basili Abdul netting both goals. They then cruised past Central, East and West Africa (CEWA) combined XI 2-0. They would however fall 1-0 to Zambia’s Chipolopolo Stars.
Nigeria and Malawi drew 0-0 before the latter gave Uganda their third defeat of the day with a 2-1 win. Zimbabwe were picked apart by CEWA who scored four goals in the first half before adding two in the second in a 6-0 drubbing.
The tournament comes to an end Wednesday 5th with Kenya playing CEWA and Malawi in must win matches if they are to have a chance of lifting the trophy.
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