14 December 2017 09:41
The 2018 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup enters the semi-final stage on Thursday and Friday in the Western Kenya town of Kisumu. On Thursday, hosts Kenya will take on Burundi with holders Uganda squaring Zanzibar 24-hours later.
Kenya head coach Paul Put had his team go through their final paces of training on Wednesday evening, shortly after arriving from Nairobi. Put has admitted that as hosts, the Harambee Stars will be under pressure to perform but says his side will maintain their cool.
“We are playing in front of the home fans and definitely there will be a lot of pressure on the boys. We have improved step by step in every game and I expect us to be better. We are not where I want us to be, but we are strong enough,” Put who joined the team a week to the tournament said.
Burundi coach Oliver Niyungeko has admitted it will be tough playing the hosts, but reckons his experienced players in the team will anchor him to the final.
These two sides met at the group stage during the last tournament in Ethiopia, the match ending 1-1. Michael Olunga drew Kenya level after Amissi Tambwe had given Burundi an early lead.
But history will count for nothing as Put seeks to endear himself to Kenyan fans by winning the title on his maiden attempt.
Striker Massoud Juma will be unavailable for the tie having yet to recover from an ankle injury picked up against Libya in the group stage matches whilst winger Ovellah Ochieng is a doubt.
In the second semi-final on Friday, surprise packets Zanzibar have vowed to surprise holders Uganda. Coach Suleiman Hemed believes that his squad has enough talent and will to ensure they get to the final.
“We have shown everyone what we can do and now it is time to get to the field and have a good result. It will be a tough match because Uganda is the defending champion. But the same way we have tackled our group matches with seriousness is the same we will tackle them,” Hemed noted.
The holders Uganda just but managed to sneak into the semis. They finished top with five points courtesy of a last gasp equalizer by Derrick Nsibambi in their final group match against Ethiopia.
Coach Moses Basena is confident that despite failing to fully inspire during the group games, Uganda will be a force to reckon in the semis..
“When we won the last tournament in Ethiopia, we lost our first match against Kenya. We are in it to fight and we will do our best,” the coach noted.
14.12.2017 Kisumu Kenya vs Burundi
15.12.2017 Kisumu Uganda vs Zanzibar