IN KIGALI, RWANDA
Defending champions Azam on Tuesday advanced to the semi-finals of the Cecafa Kagame here in Rwanda with a 2-1 win over DR Congo giants TP Mazembe.
Zambian forward Obrey Chirwa masterminded the upset with a thumping head from Suleimani Iddi’s cross to aid the ice cream makers to a 2-1 win over the African giants in the first quarter-final match of the tournament at the Stade de Kigali.
Hosts Rayon Sports were slated to meet Ugandan champions Kampala City Capital Authority (KCCA) at the same venue Tuesday night in the other quarter-final match of the day.
As part of the pre-match hype in the first quarter-final, the contest was described by sections of local media here as the “clash of moneybags.”
This owing to the fact that the Dar es Salaam based Azam are owned by Tanzanian billionaire businessman Yusuf Bakhressa while the colourful TP Mazembe from Lubumbashi in DR Congo are bankrolled by politician and business mogul Moise Katumbi.
Ipamy Giovani opened the scoring for Mazembe on 22 minutes after a lively start from both teams. The lanky winger rose highest to head a Mika Miche free kick past a stranded Razak Abalora who was guarding the Azam goal.
By this time, Mazembe, the five-time African champions, should have been two goals up.
But a minute earlier, attacker Cristian Kouame was stopped in his tracks by match referee Ishimiwe Jean Claude from Rwanda as he turned away to celebrate.
Kouame had easily beaten Razak with a sumptuous strike, but Ishimiwe ruled that there was an infringement by his teammate in the box at about the same time the attacker took the decisive shot.
Fast forward and Azam, the tournament defending champions, needed only six minutes to equalise.
Idd Selemani, who had tormented Kenya's Bandari when these two teams met earlier on in the tournament, scored the equalizer with a thunderous strike from the edge of the box off a Yakubu Mohammed corner kick.
The Dar based Ice cream makers enjoyed an upper hand in the second half with Donald Ngoma and Oscar Masai taking turns to miss clear chances.