Midfielder Noordin Bakari was the hero as Tanzania's Kilimanjaro Stars kept their hopes of retaining the Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup alive by eliminating Malawi 1-0.
The Tanzanians have thus booked a date with Uganda in tomorrow's semi finals at the National Stadium in Dar es salaam. After a lacklustre start to their title defense that included two losses in the group stages and division among the fans, the Kili Stars came into their own yesterday going toe to toe with the Flames who had been deemed as possible candidates to replace the hosts as champions, With the Malawian top division leading scorer Ishmael Tindwa flown in to boost their attacking line up, Malawi were expected to give Tanzania a tough day in the office but with their fans pulling in the same direction at least for the opening minutes, the hosts went on the offensive despite lacking three key players due to injury or disciplinary measures.
Chances were at a premium in this cagey affair and in the 39th minute when Bakari, much maligned by the Simba Sports Club faithful because of his Young African (Yanga) roots was set up at the right side of the edge of the box. Only one thing was on his mind and his shot was on target much to the delight of the hundreds of fans in attendance. The ball rolled to the far right corner beyond the flailing arms of Charles Swini.
Malawi sought an antidote for their off colour attack in the second half sending Gor Mahia target Loti Chawinga to play alongside Tindwa with skipper Josephy Kabwendo supporting from the flanks together with David Banda but Juma Nyoso and co repulsed wave after wave of Malawian attacks relying on Mrisho Ngasa and the aptly named Mwinyi Kazimoto to do the job on the counterattack. With their fans urging them to keep it tight, Ibrahim Mwaipopo was introduced in place of Jabu Juma to ensure there were to be no further goals as Kilimanjaro Stars kept the home flag flying in the wake of incessant second half pressure from the guest team to pull off the victory.