MAINLAND'S Kilimanjaro Stars and Zanzibar Heroes crashed out of this year's CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup after losing their semi-final ties against Uganda and Kenya respectively, both matches staged at Namboole Stadium in Kampala.
Kilimanjaro Stars lost 3-0 to the defending champions Uganda Cranes in the second semi-final moments after their Zanzibar brothers had lost to the Harambee Stars of Kenya 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in regular time.
The results mean Uganda and Kenya will square up in the final match on Saturday, which will be preceded by a play-off tie between Kilimanjaro Stars and Zanzibar Heroes at the Namboole Stadium. Uganda's Emmanuel Okwi opened the score-sheet in the 12th minute, to see the teams go to the half-time break with the Cranes leading 1-0.
The Kilimanjaro Stars almost came close to equalizing when a Shomari Kapombe's header from a corner in the 20th minute kissed off the crossbar. Coach Bobby Williamson was forced to bring on Hamis Kiiza in the 36th minute when goal scorer Okwi got stretchered off the pitch following an in-action collision with Mwinyi Kazimoto.
Six minutes into the second half, Robert Ssentongo the current top-scorer in the Uganda Superleague, sent a thunderous shot from 20 yards out, to double his side's advantage. Ssentongo was to apply himself again in the 72nd minute, working well with teammates to convert a dropped ball by Tanzanian keeper Juma Kaseja, ultimately capping his brace for the day.
The goal, Ssentongo's fourth of the tournament was to be the last of the day and it allowed the Cranes to walk into the last round. The game had to be stopped in the 84th minute with half of the lights at the Namboole Stadium off.
The game continued seven minutes later but still, Tanzania could not unlock them from Cranes' tight grip. In the first semi-final Kenya twice came from behind to cancel the Zanzibar Heroes lead. Zanzibar's goals were scored by Khamis Mcha after 20 minutes with defender Nadir Haroub headed into his own net under pressure from Mike Barasa to cancel out the lead nine minutes later.
Zanzibar's second goal was scored by Aggrey Morris from the penalty and Mike Baraza again equalized to force the match into extra time. Kenya's penalties were scored by Mike Baraza, Edwin Lavatsa, Joackins Atudo and Juma Abdallah.
Nandwa started with a changed line up bringing on Kevin Omondi on the flanks in place of Edwin Lavatsa who started in the match against Malawi. Kenya had the first good chance at goal in the 12th minute with Baraza's run towards goal creating a menace but his final touch in the box was cut out.
After quarter an hour the Heroes camped in the Kenyan half for ten minutes winning two successive corners in the 17 and 18th minutes but both were thwarted. Zanzibar piled pressure and their efforts paid off in the 20th minute with Khamis Mcha drilling in the opening goal of the day from a home pass beating Duncan Ochieng in the Kenyan goal.
Zanzibar got another good chance in the 29th minute with a set piece on the left flank after Joackins Atudo swept Hassan to the ground but Atudo recovered well to clear the resultant free kick from the danger area. A quick ball played further upfront found Kevin Omondi who lobbed in a rather harmless ball that was headed into the net by a Zanzibar defender in an attempted clearance under pressure from Mike Baraza.
Mike Baraza almost grabbed a second goal for Kenya in the 32nd minute throwing his body in front of Ali Mwadini's attempted clearance. The ball deflected back to Mwadini's own goal but he was saved by the upright. In the 37th minute Rama Salim delivered a beautiful through ball splitting between two Zanzibar defenders but Mike Baraza's shot with his favourite left foot was parried back into play by Mwadini.
Cliffton Miheso met the rebounded ball but again hit straight into the waiting Mwadini's gloves. At the start of second half, Nandwa brought in speedy winger Paul Were for Cliffton Miheso and later brought out Rama Salim for Edwin Lavatsa. Paul Were had good runs on the left flank but his deliveries towards goal were weak and always easily intercepted by the defence.
Kenya exposed some laxity in midfield allowing Zanzibar to take command. Humphrey Mieno in most occasions gave away blind passes. David Owino brought down Jaku in the 73rd minute and the referee awarded a penalty which was converted by Aggrey Morris to take Zanzibar to their second lead.
But the lead lasted only six minutes as Baraza cancelled the lead with a headed goal from an Abdallah Juma corner kick. The match ended 2-2 in regulation time forcing extra time. Victor Ochieng came in for Kevin Omondi in the second half of extra time and was involved in an awkward aerial collision that resulted to Ahmed's red card for head butting Ochieng.
Kenya however could not get the one man advantage as they had already exhausted their substitutes and Victor Ochieng's landing was severe and was not allowed back into play as a precaution by the doctor The match ended 2-2 forcing penalties.
Khamis Mcha the goal scorer for Zanzibar blasted his opening penalty above the bar but Mike Baraza was composed to send Mwadini the wrong side. The second penalty for Zanzibar was placed wide and Atudo scored Kenya's second to make it 2-0.Other Kenyan penalty scorers were Edwin Lavatsa and Juma Abdallah who grabbed the winning penalty for Kenya to make it 4-2.