ZANZIBAR Heroes stun favourites Rwanda's Amavubi with a 2-1 victory in Group C match of the on-going CECAFA Senior Challenge played at the muddy Nelson Mandela (Namboole) Stadium on Thursday.
The heavy down pour in Kampala had made the pitch slippery making it hard for the players to control the ball but still, CECAFA felt it was wise to continue with Group C matches.
It was a great start for Amavubi when striker Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza made a blistering run towards the goal but Heroes keeper Mwadini Ally Mwadini rushed out to a rescue. The goalkeeper was knocked in the process and had to be treated for some few seconds.
Zanzibar Heroes reacted a minute later when midfielder Seleman Kassim 'Selembe' raced to a through ball from defender Aggrey Morris but Amavubi keeper Jean Claude Ndoli was quick to block. Khamis Mcha Khamis scored the opener for Zanzibar Heroes in the 9th minute, when he precisely managed to beat the keeper.
The youthful striker kept his good footing to race into an otherwise, harmless long ball and had to somewhat thank bad pitch condition because the ball stuck in a patch of water and fooled the judgment of on rushing keeper. It was a terrible error by experienced goalkeeper, who surely had to clear the ball a bit quickly.
Zanzibar nearly scored the second two minutes later when keeper spilled a shot from Nassor Masoud 'Cholo' but there was no other Isles player hanging about. Heroes kept pressing forward and missed several other scoring chances.
Rwanda had a penalty appeal turned down by Ugandan referee Ally Kalyango in the 32nd minute, when midfielder Haruna Niyonzima's header came off Cholo's hand. Mwadini was forced to a full stretch in the 37th minute to parry off 30 metres shot from one of Rwanda's player.
Both sides were avoiding the middle part of the pitch which was completely unplayable and was full of muddy water. Mcha doubled the score after an hour mark with an assured finish this time. The man from Azam FC swiftly reacted to a mistake by defenders to beat the keeper with a low shot. Substitute Daddy Birori's flying header ten minutes before the final whistle gave Rwanda a lifeline.
He connected home Niyonzima's well measured cross. Jean Claude Iranzi's good strike narrowly missed the target with just two minutes to go. In an early kick off match of the group, Malawi Flames reignited their hopes for a quarter-final berth after beating Eritrea's Sea Boys 3-2 in a closely fought match.
Eritrea was made to sweat blood rallying from three goals down to stretch the game to a nerve wrecking finish. Chiukuepo Msowoya was the hero for the Kinnar Phiri coached Flames grabbing a brace in the 3rd and 67th minutes while Mhone added another. Eritrea came after the breather a re-energized lot showing their thirst for goal and even after conceding heavily, they kept their dreams alive with endless waves of attacks.