Machakos — Antoine Hey paid the ultimate price for changing his entire squad as Rwanda lost their second consecutive CECAFA Senior Challenge match going down 3-1 to Zanzibar at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Tuesday afternoon.
Muhadjiri Hakizimana's goal two minutes after the restart had cancelled out Mudathir Yahya's first half goal for Zanzibar, but a defensive lapse saw Issa Juma score the second six minutes later while Khamis Suleiman struck the winner with four minutes left.
Yahya opened the scoring for the Zanzibaris who were playing their first match of the tournament, heading into the net a cross from Abdallah Salum Kheri in the 33rd minute with keeper Yves Kimenyi well beaten.
Before the goal, it was a balanced affair with each team going up in attack. Rwanda had come close in the 25th minute when Innocent Nhsuti connected Hakizimana's freekick at the edge of the box but it hit the upright, though the ref whistled for offside.
Three minutes before his goal, Yahya had tried his luck from distance after wriggling past his marker and finding shooting space but the effort was way over.
A minute to the break, Hakizimana who was trusted with set pieces had one from a decent scoring range, but he sent it straight to the keeper.
Hey made changes right at the start of the second half, Mico Justine and Birahimire Abeddy coming in for Sekamana Maxime and Mbogo Ali.
The changes worked magic just a minute into the second stanza when Abeddy exchanged passes with Muhadjiri inside the box, the latter finding space unmarked at the far post to easily tap in.
Abeddy had a close chance to make it 2-1 for the Rwandese when he raced in to a Fitina Omborenga cross from the right, but he glanced his header over unmarked inside the box.
The Rwandese were made to pay for the missed chance in the 52nd minute when a lapse in defense saw Feisal Salum win the ball inside the box before cutting back to Juma who curled it past the keeper.
Five minutes later, it was almost another equalizer for Rwanda when Omborenga had a great chance unmarked at the far post from Abeddy's pass, but his shot was saved by the Zanzibar keeper.
From a text book counter attack, the islanders put the game to rest with three minutes left, Khamis beating the keeper one on one after picking the ball on the right.