New Vision (Kampala)

8 December 2012

Uganda/Kenya: Uganda Beats Kenya to 2012 Cecafa Title

Uganda Cranes have beaten Kenya's Harambee Stars 2-1 at Namboole Stadium to defend the Cecafa Cup title they won last year in Tanzania.

The hosts' first goal ricocheted off Kenyan defender and captain Anthony Kimani and into the back of the net, thanks to a powerful shot by Robert Ssentongo from a right wing build-up.

Ssentongo's goal kept the two sides separate until late into the 87th minute when an Edwin Lavatsa's equalizer changed the atmosphere inside a fully-packed Namboole Stadium. But then, the defending champions wrapped up their victory three minutes later courtesy of a brilliant Geoffrey Kizito header from a measured free-kick.

Uganda's tally in the regional tournament now stands at 13 titles, while Kenya remain second-best with five final victories.

The former's record comes on the back of an unbeaten run this year, having let only one ball past its goalmouth from Lavatsa's equalizer in the final showpiece.

Brian Umony received the player-of-the-tournament award, Robert Ssentongo was the top scorer of the event, and the accolade for the best goalkeeper went to Hamza Muwonge.

Uganda Cranes now are USD30,000 (about sh81 million) richer for their top place finish in the tournament, and the Harambee Stars go back home with a well-earned USD20,000.

It wasn't smooth sailing for the defending champions against the very team they beat 1-0 in the opening of the event. The Harambee Stars, who travelled to Kampala without their head coach Henri Michel, returned a much better side.

Saturday's final showdown ushered in a quick-paced game, with both sides looking ever sharp and agile.

Uganda's first real attack came just three minutes into the first half but Kenyan Number One Duncan Ochieng's hands proved safe enough. Equally, Kenya's first corner kick, and the first of the game in the 5th minute, was eased away very well by the Cranes back.

A cocktail of spirited attacks, thundering attacks and heart-stopping shots from either end of the pitch sprinkled life into the opening minutes of game play but yielded no goals.

The midfield started off the busier part of the field than any other, with Kenya's Mike Baraza injecting hope for an opener into his fellows teammates. On the other end, Emmanuel Okwi was busy launching lethal attacks goalwards.

But only many a time did his efforts go wasted.

The energy invested into the game came to a temporary halt in the 16th minute when Kenya's David Owino Odhiambo pulled a hamstring without contact. That injury saw his playing time come to an agonizing end with teammate Kevin Omondi stepping on in his place.

Harambee Stars' early substitution threw the game into a new dimension when the hosts mounted more pressure from the front right wing.

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