Harambee Stars are the 2013 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup champions after beating Sudan’s Falcons of Jediane 2-0 in a thrilling final played on a muddy and slippery Nyayo national stadium Thursday evening.
Stars ended their painful 11-year-wait for the regional crown by rising to the occasion when most needed. The sweet victory coincided with the 50th anniversary of Independence which remarkably gave the thousands of fans who braved the evening chilly weather to cheer them to glory.
After a strong start, Stars deservedly snatched the lead through lead striker Allan Wanga who opened his account in the 35th minute nodding home a neat left flank cross from David “Calabar” Owino to send the partisan crowd into a frenzy before adding another in the 69th minute.
Stars showed class from the word go piling relentless pressure on the Sudanese.
With Francis Kahata in good form pulling the strings in the midfield and his Thika teammate Clifton Miheso lively on the far wing, Stars continued to run rings around the Sudan’s defense manned by skipper Hamoda Bashir, Ismail Elsiddig, Ali Maki and Malik Mohamed.
Prior to nodding home his first goal, Wanga, a former Petro Atletico and FC Baku player had missed two glorious scoring opportunities in the six yard area. But he made amends with two neatly taken goals; the first a header and the second a sliding effort.
Stars who were cheered by among others former Prime Minister Raila Odinga took home a glittering trophy and a Sh 2.6 million in prize money.
“It’s awesome to win this title. We’ve worked hard for it. The effort we put in has paid. It is a victory against a very good side and a present for the country,” said Allan Wanga after claiming the man of the match award.
Belgian head coach Adrel Amrouche, kept faith in the same squad that overpowered Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Stars 1-0 in the semis.
With the game swinging in Stars favour the outfoxed and outrun Falcons opted for long balls and the closest they came was in the 28th minute when midfielder Nadir Eltayeb fired thunderously from 20 metres but Stars custodian Duncan Ochieng was equal to the task.
Stars could have been gone 3-0 up in the 61st minute with Peter Opiyo’s rasping low drive from the right wing missing the target by inches.