Kenya @50; Let the celebrations begin . . .
On the day that the country is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Kenya’s Harambee Stars, led by Belgian Coach Adel Amrouche, are the new CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup Champions.
Captain fantastic Allan Wanga scored a brace, in the 34th and 68th minutes to add the icing on Kenya’s 50 years independence celebration cake in leading the nation to a 2-0 beating of Sudan in the final that was played at the Nyayo National Stadium from 1830hrs local time.
The win, the first since 2002 when Kenya beat hosts Tanzania 3-2, follows up on the last the team won at home in 1983, incidentally at the same venue, one that was delivered by Dr Joe Masiga’s lone strike against Zimbabwe.
Last time round, in 2012, Kenya, then under Coach James Nandwa, came to within a whisker of winning the trophy but fell 2-1 to hosts Uganda in the final played at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Namboole on 8 December.
After an even first half, that saw Sudan put Kenya’s midfield in check but had no answer to Allan Wanga who positioned himself well in the 34th minute to receive a floated pass from defender David Owino.
Beating his marker, Wanga sent the ball to the back of the net via the underside of the cross bar.
He was at it again in the 68th minute. Beating the outstanding centre back Eltahir Elhag, Wanga, making his 34th cap for the national team, slid a delivery from the right by James Situma - his new team mate at AFC Leopards, to the far post for the second goal, his eighth goal in CECAFA and 12th overall for Kenya.
While Sudan was the dominant side in midfield, Kenya’s back line of Aboud Omar, James Situma, Jockins Atudo and Aboud Omar, with the support of Anthony Akumu and Peter Opiyo was impregnable.
In winning the crown for only the sixth time after previous triumphs in 1975, 1981/82/83 and 2002, Kenya scooped the winner’s medal and the accompanying purse of US$ 30,000 that, for presentation sake, was handed out in a dummy cheque.
In leading Kenya to win the 37th edition of the annual regional showpiece, Adel Amrouche becomes only the second foreigner to deliver the trophy after Englishman Ray Wood in 1975 when Kenya beat Malawi 3-2 in Zambia.
Local Coach Marshall Mulwa delivered the three trophies in the 80’s with Jacob Ghost Mulee the last one in 2002.