Kenya's Harambee Stars registered their first win in the ongoing Cecafa Tusker Cup after beating hard fighting South Sudan 2-0. David Ochieng's 14th minute header and substitute Clifton Miheso's shot earned James Nandwa's side the three point that took them closer to clinching a berth in the last eight.
Nandwa made three attacking changes to improve Stars frontline that was guilty of missing several chances in the 1-0 loss to Uganda but the men introduced to sharpen the attack including--Mike Barasa, Paul Were and Kevin Omondi-- were again profligate when presented with opportunities to score.
As early as the third minute, Barasa escaped down the left and sent in a cross that Humphrey Mieno failed to direct goal-wards. In a furious start, Stars created chance after chance that went begging with Omondi shooting wide after receiving a good pass from Barasa and Sofapaka's Anthony Kimani going for goal when passing to Were could have been a better option.
South Sudan made their first foray forward with Zacharia Nasio sending a sumptuous cross that none of his attackers was near enough to feed on.
Kenya's persistence paid off in the 14th minute when Tusker hard man, Ochieng 'Cheche'--a revelation in this tournament-- rose unmarked to thump in Omondi's corner.
Stars expected the floodgates to open but still chances went begging. Danger-man Leon Khamis tested Duncan Ochieng with long range effort and then nearly connected with a dangerous cross from the right. Barasa and Were continued to waste chances leaving coach Nandwa exasperated and fearing the worst.
Ten minutes after half-time Edwin Lavatsa came on for Kimani as Nandwa sought the second goal that would cushion them against a sucker punch from the Juba side.
Sudan too were not resting on their laurels with then hard work of Khamis and Thomas Jacub thwarted by the human shield thrown around 'Dunco' by Joakins Atudo, captain Anthony Kimani and the workaholic David Owino.
Were continued his hard running on the right but was not getting the reward his effort deserved and Nandwa gave him a rest and brought in Thika's Clifton Miheso in the 60th minute.
Barasa, normally a picture of calm with his club AFC Leopards, wasted the best chance of the second half when sent clean through by Mieno, failing to hit the target with his weaker right foot in the 70th minute.
Fears of a backlash for all the misses were erased three minutes later as Thika's left-footer Miheso finished a move by Gor Mahia's Omondi by rifling a shot that Sudan keeper could not hold onto and watched helplessly as it bounce above him to trickle into the net.
With the game safe, Kenya could afford to relax with Sony Sugar's Enock Agwanda replacing Baraza. It was Sudan though who had the better chances at the end with Martin Suliman's acrobatic effort comfortably gathered by Ochieng.
In the end, the two goals were good enough but the poor finishing will have to be worked on as the tournament gets set for the knockout phase. The win means that Kenya are still in contention for a place in the last eight and a victory over Ethiopia will see them through on Friday.