Amavubi face tough challenge against Kenya

GoTV Cecafa Challenge Cup

Saturday

Tanzania vs. Uganda 1pm

Rwanda vs. Kenya 3pm

Sunday

Zambia vs. Burundi

Ethiopia vs. Sudan

AMAVUBI Stars are in for a tough task when they face hosts Kenya in the second quarter final match of the 2013 GOtv Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup tournament due today Mombasa Municipal Stadium.

Amavubi secured the quarter final ticket after winning a single game – a 1-0 win over Eritrea in Machakos on Thursday, courtesy of a single strike from Michel Ndahinduka.

The Amavubi Stars, who have been blowing hot and cold in this competition, dominated proceedings against Uganda Cranes in their first match only to lose courtesy of a late Dan Sserunkuma strike.

Against Sudan, Amavubi players were outplayed but narrowly lost 1-0 before rising to the occasion on Thursday to see off Eritrea by a solitary goal to qualify.

Kenya won a coin toss against Ethiopia to top Group A after both teams tied on points and goal difference.

Rwanda were among the two best third placed teams to qualify to the quarters, the other being Burundi who finished third in Group B.

But Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche’s boys must be wary of the Rwanda attack spearheaded by Meddie Kagere who despite not yet scoring in this competition, remains a key figure in the Amavubi attack.

While Kenya starts as favourites, they must also be more lethal in front of goal if they are to go all the way. Statistically, Kenya has had the most scoring chances in the competition but they have only scored five which should be something to worry for Amrouche and his technical bench.

Kenya drew 0-0 with Ethiopia in the opening match on November 27 before thumping minnows South Sudan 3-1. Stars then saw off The Heroes of Zanzibar 2-0 in their final Group A match in a game where the national team failed to capitalise on a number of clear cut chances.

Amavubi skipper Haruna Niyonzima believes it is time for the Amavubi Stars to work themselves out and register a decent result against Kenya.

“After losing to Uganda and Sudan, we have put our act together for this hard fought result (1-0) against Eritrea. Kenya are hosts but we shall try our best to play and win the game,”

Niyonzima, who plays professional football with Tanzanian giants, Yanga, was only introduced by Coach Eric Nshimiyimana at the hour half mark of the game with the game barren at goalless.

“As a team leader and player as well, I have to respect which ever decision the technical wing makes, “a rather unbothered Niyonzima said.

All Amavubi will need is brilliance in front of goal to overcome the hosts in the hot Mombasa city which is known for its high temperatures on the coastline unlike the chilly Kigali weather that the Rwandan players are used to.

Coach Adel Amrouche has told his charges to brace themselves for “real competition” this afternoon. “Rwanda has a quality squad and I think the real action is now beginning in this competition,” said Amrouche.

“My target is now to get a result and make it to the semi finals,” added the Belgian.

A win for Rwanda will book them a date with the winners between Zambia and Burundi in the semi finals.

Amavubi, 1999 winners, made the quarterfinals last year but lost to Tanzania 2-1 in Kampala failing to replicate the form they had showcased in 2011 in Tanzania when they reached the finals, however, lost to Uganda in a penalty shootout.

In an earlier game, defending champions Uganda Cranes are wary of the Tanzania attack that has Thomas Ulimwengu, Mrisho Khalfani Ngassa and Mbwana Samatta as they head for the quarter final clash.

Uganda will be banking on the form of Gor Mahia forward Dan Sserunkuma who has been their chief supplier for goals so far in the competition.

Skipper Emmanuel Okwi has also been potent in front of goal while the midfield partnership of Tusker FC’s Khalid Aucho and Hamis Kiiza has been compact.

Tanzania will be looking to avenge their loss to Uganda in the semi finals last year in Kampala and the home and away losses in the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers earlier this year.

Guest side Zambia takes on Burundi in Sunday’s quarters match with Ethiopia and Sudan facing off in the other tie.