Kampala — MAINLAND soccer team Kilimanjaro Stars coach Kim Poulsen saluted the Uganda Cranes after their CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup master class, resulted in Stars' knock out from the semi-final.
Simba's sensational striker Emmanuel Okwi and URA's Robert Ssentongo lit up the stadium with a stunning three-goal haul to beat Stars and maintain Uganda Cranes's bid for back-to-back CECAFA titles.
The Stars boss left his anger and frustration at his side's elimination to one side and hailed the Cranes performance at the Nelson Mandela (Namboole) Stadium on Thursday, saying the defending champions deserved a 3-0 rout against somewhat 'poor' Stars to make it in the final against Harambee Stars of Kenya today.
Kilimanjaro Stars came to the semi-final at the back of credible results in the group stages and a win over Rwanda in the quarterfinal but they found the going tough against the Cranes. Poulsen admitted that he did not expect to lose by such a margin and acknowledged that the Cranes were the better team of the day.
"We had a very good run through the groups but our match against Uganda Cranes was totally different as they overpowered us and I want to take this moment to congratulate our opponents and the coach who has prepared a very good team.
"Our dream was to reach the finals but this could not happen as we lost our composure and got exposed leading to our defence leaking but all in all that is football the best team always emerges victorious we will have to fight another day and perhaps be contented with a third playoff against our neighbours Zanzibar but we will look at our mistakes and rectify them before the next game," Poulsen was quoted as saying.
However, the Dane coach hailed his team's performance in the tournament, saying the youthful side showed lots of quality. "I think we've had a best tournament throughout save for this bad day against Uganda... players have gained much needed experience and we're looking forward to perform even well in other competitions," he said.
Kilimanjaro Stars, which is sponsored by Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, will clash against Zanzibar in the third and fourth place playoff match preceding the final today. Poulsen predicted a tough encounter against the Zanzibaris, saying the Isles team performed extremely well in the tournament.
His opposing end Bobby Williamson has attributed their win over Kilimanjaro Stars to team work and hard work from the players whom he described as focused. Williamson who will be looking to win his fourth CECAFA title while in charge of the Cranes was not surprised by the performance of his team throughout the competition and thanked the fans for their support.
Williamson was categorical that the final against Kenya will not be an easy game but further alluded to the fact that nothing will stop their quest to retain the title at home. "I want to thank my players for a superb game against Kilimanjaro Stars who are a very good team.
My players focussed on the game from the first whistle and they never looked back and this is the philosophy I have taught them over the years. I want to thank the fans who have been simply superb throughout the tournament and we hope to continue with the same trend as we go to the final.
"Our next opponents Kenya are a very good side but I believe we can retain our title as long as we maintain the same discipline tactically and technical as things look positive for us," Williamson said. The Cranes face off with Kenya's Harambee Stars in a mouth watering clash pitting two arch rivals.