MAINLAND side, Kilimanjaro Stars began their CECAFA 2019 Senior Challenge Cup on back foot after losing 1-0 to Kenya's Harambee Stars at Lugogo ground in Kampala, Uganda yesterday.
It was the second match in group B of the tournament as the first game between Zanzibar Heroes and Sudan at the same venue ended in a 1-1 draw.
Following the victory, Kenya who are the defending champions lead group B with three points, followed by Zanzibar and Sudan with each having one point and one goal.
Kilimanjaro Stars remain at the bottom without a point. Up next, Kilimanjaro Stars face Zanzibar Heroes tomorrow in their second match of the group, whereas Kenya will take on Sudan.
Harambee Star's striker Hassan Abdallah scored the only goal of the match in the 4th minute, following defensive mix up, thereby gifting their opponents to seize the win.
However, despite conceding an early goal, it was Stars who launched the first goal hunting move in the 2nd minute of the opening half, when Miraji Athumani was provided with a good ball inside the box but the Simba SC striker missed the glittering chance to score first.
Again, in the 6th minute, Stars won a free kick just outside the box, a promising area to respond back, but Miraji misused the chance by firing over the cross bar.
Throughout the opening segment, both sides were able to create meaningful scoring chances but finishing was the main challenge.
Kilimanjaro Stars Head Coach Juma Mgunda was the first trainer to adjust his starting lineup by introducing Eliuter Mpepo for Lucas Kikoti in the 42nd minute, aiming to increase the tempo at the frontline.
As the first half elapsed, both teams had one shot on target, with Kenya utilising potentially their opportunity by netting the winning goal.
The second half saw the country's flag bearers coming up refreshed and started pushing Kenyans within their own territory but the latter always looked lethal during counterattacks.
In the 46th minute, Miraji had another promising effort, a long range shot which apparently went few inches away from the intended target.
In the 54th minute, Kilimanjaro Stars defender Bakari Mwamnyeto 'Nondo' had to clear a dangerous ball inside the box for a corner kick with Kenyan strikers prowling in the area.
Mgunda, again, called to bench Paul Nonga for Ditram Nchimbi in the 64th minute hoping to pile pressure on the defending champions and probably get the equalising goal, but the seventime CECAFA champions gave their opponents no room to achieve that.
Kenya relied much on their dangerous striker Oscar Wamalwa, who despite not finding the goal, his movements were a thorn in flesh for Kilimanjaro Stars defenders.
The last substitution on the day for Mgunda was made in the 69th minute as Miraji paved way for his club teammate Hassan Dilunga, whose nimble footing caused problems to the Harambee Stars players.
Kenya Coach Francis Kimanzi made his first substitution in the 71st minute when he rested Kevin Kimani for Whyvone Isuza, who managed to protect their lead until the final minute of the clash.
On Saturday, hosts Uganda Cranes started their campaign on a good note edging Burundi 2-1 at Lugogo. Bright Anukani and Fahad Bayo scored for the Cranes, while Cedric Rusarenga Danny scored Burundi's consolation.