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Harambee Stars eye Eritrea scalp in Cecafa semis

Sunday December 15 2019
By DAVID KWALIMWA

Harambee Stars goalkeeper Samuel Odhiambo has urged his teammates to step up their game in Tuesday's Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup semi-final date versus a vastly improved Eritrea at the StarTimes Stadium in Kampala.

Neighbours Tanzania and Uganda will square off in the other last-four contest at the same venue, and the Kilimanjaro Stars have received a timely boost after Tanzanian billionaire Mohamed 'Mo' Dewji promised the team a cash reward of Sh5 million and a motorcycle each if the team wins the tournament.

'Mo', as he is popularly referred to, is ranked the 14th richest person in Africa and owns Dar-based football club Simba SC.

He made this pledge during a tour of Kampala on Friday at the invitation of Nation Media Group as a keynote speaker at the Monitor Thought Leaders Forum.

But unbeaten Kenya is gunning to defend this regional football showpiece title while Odhiambo is eyeing his first international title.

"We have been playing well and posting the desired results in our group matches but when it comes to the semis, things will be different. We will have to step up our game because there's a little margin of error and in case of a mistake, little time to correct that as it is a knock-out," observed the Western Sima keeper.

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"From what I know, Eritrea has a fast-passing game and they enjoy possession a lot. The players get confident the more they have the ball."

Kenya beat Tanzania, Sudan, and Zanzibar to top Group 'B' and progress to the last four of this eight-nation tournament and remain on course to meet hosts Uganda in what will be a thrilling finale on Thursday. The 35-year-old Odhiambo has conceded one goal in the three matches, with Ulinzi's Oscar Wamalwa and Bandari Abdalla Hassan each scoring two goals.

Eritrea meanwhile beat Burundi and Djibouti, drew with Somalia, and then lost to hosts and eventual Group 'A' winners Uganda.

Odhiambo was only included in the squad after Kariobangi Sharks goalkeeper Brian Bwire pulled out with a reported hip injury.

Meanwhile, Stars coach Francis Kimanzi is set to make a return to the dugout from a two-match stadium ban against Zanzibar.

The tournament winners will pocket Sh3 million, while the second and third-placed teams will take home Sh2 million and Sh1 million respectively.

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