17 December 2017 07:10
The fairytale for Zanzibar continued on Friday when they downed holders Uganda 2-1 in Kisumu to book a slot in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup final on Sunday. This is the first time in 22-years that Zanzibar has reached the decisive stage of the regional championship. The first was in 1995 when they beat hosts Uganda to win the title.
Zanzibar players soaked their coach Suleiman Hemed with water after the final whistle as they celebrated the feat, especially having come into the tournament as underdogs.
“Many people were not looking at us when we came here but we have shown that we can do it. We worked hard as a team and got the results we needed. It is historic making it into the final and I can’t express just how happy I am,” skipper Suleiman Kassim said after the match.
Hemed was also over the moon after the result, saying his team deserved to be in the final after playing with their hearts. He has promised host Kenya a tough game on Sunday.
“We came here to compete and now that we have booked a ticket in the final we will fight to the last drop of blood. This is a gift to the people back home,” the coach said.
Uganda coach Moses basena was disappointed, but says his players will fight for the bronze medal to ensure they go home with consolation.
“It is disappointing as defending champions not to be in the final but we have ourselves to blame. We conceded both goals off our own mistakes. We tried to push but credit to Zanzibar because they were disciplined in defense,” Basena said.
Abdul Aziz Makame opened the scoring for Zanzibar in the 23rd minute before Uganda equalized six minutes later through Derrick Nsibambi who scored his fourth goal of the tournament.
It was a balanced and a hotly contested tie. In the 11th minute Nsibambi went for the spectacular with an acrobatic kick off a Nico Wadada cross but the effort went over.
Zanzibar broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when Makame found the ball inside the box from a poorly defended corner to shoot home. Uganda had given away possession cheaply resulting in the corner.
The goal immediately bolted Basena into action, pulling out Shafiq Bakaki who had struggled in his first start of the tournament and brought in Nsubuga. Uganda drew level four minutes later when Nsibambi swinged in his fourth goal of the tournament from Allan Kyambadde’s cross.
In the second half, Uganda came back stronger but were caught up in the counter resulting in what would be Zanzibar’s winning goal.
The Cranes lost possession from their own corner and Zanzibar took on the counter. Hamad broke away with pace and once he was inside the box preparing to place the ball into the net, he was pulled down by Nsubuga. Issa stepped up and made no mistake, sending Watenga the wrong way.
Zanzibar keeper Mohammed Abdulrahman pulled a great save two minutes from time when he punched away a shot from Nsibambi. Zanzibar defended with their hearts to ensure they get to their first final since 1995.