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March 23, 2018

Harambee Stars edge out Burundi 1-0 to clinch spot in Cecafa finals

Harambee stars post for a group photo before a match at Bukhungu stadium on December 3, 2017. /CALISTUS LUCHETU
Harambee stars post for a group photo before a match at Bukhungu stadium on December 3, 2017. /CALISTUS LUCHETU

Harambee Stars have made their way to the finals in the ongoing Cecafa competition.

This was after edging out a stubborn Burundi side 1-0 in a semi-final match at the Moi Stadium, Kisumu on Thursday afternoon.

Whyvonne Isuza’s extra-time goal was enough to send the hosts to the final of the tournament and will now face the winner between champions Uganda and Zanzibar.

Kenya started the game on a sloppy note but picked themselves up in the second half, though it was the extra-time move in the 97th minute that proved most important point of the game when AFC Leopards’ midfielder Isuza curled in a left-foot shot into Burundi’s top corner.

Meanwhile, Zanzibar Heroes and Uganda Cranes renewed their rivalry at the same venue.

Cranes’ coach, Moses Basena said they were ready for the last four encounter.

"We are under pressure to defend the title and make our fans happy. It is a huge task but we came here prepared for it and the players know the responsibility they are carrying," Basena said.

The interim manager, however, expressed concern over the duration between matches.

"We played our last match on Monday and we play a semi-final on Friday then maybe the final on Sunday. It’s not fair," Basena said.

Zanzibar Football Federation general secretary Mohammed Ali said his boys are buoyed by the prospect of meeting Uganda, the best ranked team in the region.

"We have a very young squad determined to lift the title for the second time. Only one player has ever played for Taifa Stars. We have met Uganda before and beaten them so we are not scared," said Ali.

"Unlike in other tournaments where we went to firefight, we are here to compete and we have demonstrated it by qualifying for the semi-finals. Our eyes are on the trophy."

In 1995, Zanzibar beat Uganda ‘B’ 1-0 to lift their inaugural regional title. They had also beaten Uganda ‘A’ by the same score enroute to the final.

Kisumu County sports minister Achie Alai said all preparations are in place where the teams are being accommodated at Le Savanna Country Lodge and St John’s Manor.

Alai said they have put in place elaborate security measures for the teams in the duration they will be in Kisumu.

"We have police, county askaris and stewards providing security at the stadium," she added.

Uganda sailed to the semis after winning Group ‘B’ while Zanzibar finished second in Group ‘A’.

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