2 December 2012

Tanzania: Ngassa Sends Stars Through

MERCURIAL winger Mrisho Ngassa at his breathtaking best tore hapless Somalia apart with the country record five-goal CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup haul as Kilimanjaro Stars swept into the quarter-finals with a resounding 7-0 rout.

All five strikes against a hapless Somalia, including brilliant incisive running on either flanks, showcased the stunning skills of a man who is among highly paid soccer stars in the Mainland Premier League, featuring for giants and defending champions Simba SC.

He became the first Mainland player to score five in Challenge Cup match and instinctively topped the scoring chart of this year's event, while striker partner John Bocco is behind him with four goals.

Ngassa, who was unstoppable throughout the match, also assisted one of Bocco's two goals in the match played at the Lugogo Stadium, home of Uganda Super League side Kampala City Council with the main Nelson Mandela (Namboole) Stadium closed for rehabilitation after being destroyed by the rain.

The tournament organisers had to succumb to pressure following the despicable conditions at Namboole and moved Saturday games to two other stadiums -- Lugogo and Wankulukuku Stadiums. Heavy rains in the past days have seen games played on a rather unplayable Namboole turf and the condition seemed to get out of hand on Thursday but the two games went ahead nonetheless.

Kilimanjaro Stars nonetheless, settled at second place on six points in Group B after Burundi, who finished top of the group with maximum nine points beat Sudan 1-0 at Wankulukuku. They will play Group C leaders Rwanda. In the yesterday's encounter, Kilimanjaro Stars reacted perfectly to the demands of their coach Kim Poulsen, who had insisted prior to the match that nothing but comprehensive victory will be required.

And, the team which is sponsored by Kilimanjaro Premium Lager did just that. They had a perfect start with Ngassa scoring his first within just after 48 seconds of the match. The 2010 Challenge Cup top scorer added his second with 24 minutes on the clock heading in at the far end from Issa Rashid's corner.

Towering John Bocco then added the third three minutes later to give Star a comfortable lead with a fine header from an Issa Rashid cross on the left. Things got worse for Sam Ssimbwa's boys as his keeper Moalim Abdulahi was forced out with injury and minutes later, right back Ahmed Abikadir also limped off being replaced by Mahad Hajji.

Bocco would add Tanzania's fourth and his second of the afternoon tapping in the 43rd minute from Ngassa's cross. Ngassa himself ensured things stayed safe as they headed to the changing rooms tapping in a rebound from just outside the six-yard area. Frank Domayo's shot from a Salum Abubakar pass rattled the cross bar with the substitute Somali keeper having a finger on it.

Ngassa took care of the remains. In the second half, Tanzania Coach Kim Poulsen could afford some prestige pulling off Bocco for Christopher Edward while Athumani Iddi 'Chuji' came in for Domayo. Just 13 minutes from the restart, Ngassa had a chance to extend his tally to four goals but he shot straight at the keeper after a fine run into the Somali area.

With Stars relaxed in their play, Somalia found some spaces to permeate and try to grab at least one for the road. Mohammed Jama lost a great chance when he blasted over the bar a pass from Ali Mohammed that evaded everyone.

However, their efforts were slapped on the face by the same man who had been destroying them from the start; Ngassa, who grabbed two goals within two minutes 74 and 75minutes. First he connected substitute Athumani Iddi's long pass before he tapped in the other from close range.

Ali Mohammed had a perfect chance to reduce Somalia's deficit but he hit a shot into the side netting after finding space alone inside the box from a Mohammed Jabril pass. Substitutes Christopher Edward and Abdallah Singano also displayed impressive game but the latter missed a sitter when he saw his simple attempt to tap in sailing over the bar.

There was a bit of complacent on the part of Stars from then as match almost turned to a training session. Meanwhile, Zanzibar sailed through to quarterfinals despite losing 2-0 to Malawi. They will face Ethiopia.

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