13 December 2017

Kenya/Burundi: Moment of Truth as Harambee Stars Tackle Burundi in Cecafa Semis

Photo: Chris Omollo/Daily Nation
Harambee Stars winger Ovella Ochieng (left) dribbles past Zanzibar's Yabdul-Aziz Makame during their Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup Group A match on December 9, 2017 at Kenyatta Stadium, in Machakos.

All eyes will be on hosts Harambee Stars from 3pm Thursday afternoon as they tackle Burundi in the first semi-final of the 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup at Moi Stadium in Kisumu County.

Stars coach Paul Put is vouching for support from all quarters as he bids to steer Stars into the final of the regional tourney.

"The players have shown the kind of progress I want to see as a coach, that in four games we've not conceded even a single goal. We've analysed Burundi and hopefully we can get a good result against them," said the Belgian, who could welcome striker Masoud Juma back from injury.

"This is a knockout match, always tricky but we have to be careful especially from the counter attacks."

The 2017 SportPesa Premier League top scorer has missed the last two games with an ankle injury sustained in Stars' 0-0 draw with Libya but is expected to undergo a late fitness test before the match.

This will be the 11th meeting between the two sides. Previously, Kenya has won twice, lost thrice while five of the matches ended in a draw.

Kenya last beat the Swallows on home soil in 2000, a 1-0 win at the City Stadium thanks to Bernard Onyango's 34th minute strike.

The two countries drew 1-1 in the 2015 edition preliminary match at the Hawassa International Stadium in Ethiopia in their last meeting.

Gor Mahia defender Karim Nizigiyimana has tipped his country to clip the hosts and advance to the final.

"Had the match been staged in Machakos, then it could have troubled Burundi players who are technically superb. They will enjoy playing in the turf in Kisumu, the only threat to the team is the solid Kenya back line," Nizigiyimana said.

"We've a lethal forward line comprising of Abdul Razak (Fiston) and Mavugo (Laudit) and a strong midfield. I expect a win to reach the final despite playing the hosts who will have the 12th man on their side," said Nizigiyimana, who missed this year's edition with an injury.

In case of a draw in regular time, the match will head for extra time followed by penalties should the score remain even.

Put is likely to retain Patrick Matasi in between the sticks with Jockins Atudo partnering Musa Mohammed at the back.

Kariobangi Sharks' Patillah Omoto could once again play alongside Gor's Ernest Wendo in midfield with Ovellah Ochieng' and George 'Blackberry' Odhiambo running rings on the flanks.

The other semi-final will see holders Uganda take on surprise package Zanzibar at the same venue on Friday.

Probable line-up: Patrick Matasi (GK), Jockins Atudo, Musa Mohammed (C), Dennis Sikhayi, Wesley Onguso, Duncan Otieno, Patillah Omoto, Whyvonne Isuza, Ovellah Ochieng', George Odhiambo, Vincent Oburu.

Reserves: Boniface Oluoch (GK), Charles Momanyi, Wellington Ochieng', Bernard Ochieng', Isaac Kipyegon, Said Tsuma, Samuel Onyango, Kepha Aswani, Chris Oduor, Ernest Wendo, Masud Juma.

FIXTURES

Thursday

Kenya v Burundi (Moi Stadium, Kisumu 3pm)

Friday

Uganda v Zanzibar (Moi Stadium, Kisumu 3pm)

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