CECAFA U18: Ibrahim Wanzala's penalty heroics send Kenya to finals at Tanzania's expense

FOOTBALL CECAFA U18: Ibrahim Wanzala's penalty heroics send Kenya to finals at Tanzania's expense

Mark Kinyanjui 17:48 - 05.12.2023

Ibrahim Wanzala proved to be the hero, saving two penalties as Junior Stars managed to overcome Tanzania to storm into the CECAFA U18 finals.

Ibrahim Wanzala was the hero between the sticks as he saved two penalties to send the Junior Stars to the final of the ongoing CECAFA U18 Championships, beating Tanzania 4-3  on Tuesday afternoon.

The game was very tight in the first half, with both sides creating equal amounts for large spells, although Tanzania did have three good chances to sail ahead.

Tanzania started lively and made their first attempt in the fourth minute through left-back Ismail Ali who attempted a shot but it went wide off the post following a string of interchanging passes.

The next came moments later when Ali got to the byline before delivering a dangerous cross from the left flank which met Zidane Sereri accurately, but the speedster hit the ball wide of the net.

Both sides struggled to create inroads in the others’ halves for the next 25 minutes before star midfielder Aldrine Kibet attempted a shot from outside the box, but it was not enough to give the Tanzania goalkeeper a hard time saving.

Baron Ochieng was then booked for a cynical challenge on Sereri in the 42nd minute, leading to a good chance for Tanzania to take the lead, but Hijah Lidah’s resultant attempt sailed just over the bar.

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Stars head coach Salim Babu opted to make a change after the break, subbing on Humphrey Aroko for Elly Owade at the break as he sought to find a way to get his side’s attacking play going.

This did not prevent the Kenyans from giving needless fouls away in dangerous areas, and one freekick by the Tanzanians was cleared off the line by Stars captain Amos Wanjala to keep the score tight.

Substitute Duncan Oluoch did have a chance to score for Kenya in the 71st minute, but his attempted header sailed wide off the mark.

Oluoch clearly injected pace into the side and provided yet another chance when he ran with the ball down the left flank before unleashing a floated cross towards the back post but no one managed to get on the end of it.

This got the crowd at the Mamboleo Stadium going, and Kenya started creating multiple chances from set-piece situations, with Kariobangi Sharks Star Stanley Wilson attempting a shot that forced Tanzania keeper Anthony Mpemba into making an excellent save.

Stars continued to pile on the pressure but could not make the chances they were creating count, prompting the game to get to extratime.

No chance of substance was created in the first half, with both sides seemingly trying to play for penalties, but Tanzania missed a glorious chance to go ahead just before the break when Liddah hit the ball wide from the right flank after a dangerous cross was whipped in off the left.

After the break, Kenya’s Ciphas Owuor should have put Kenya ahead when he attempted a left-footed shot that forced Pemba into making an excellent save away for a corner.

Stars had to overcome another close shave when Ochieng, who was already on a yellow card, gave away a freekick just outside the area but again, Tanzania’s Sharrif Wilson just could not capitalise.

The game just could not find and edge and in the end, it has to be decided out on penalties. 

In the shoot outs, Kenya keeper Ibrahim Wanzala managed to make two penalty saves to help the side storm into the final of the cup, where they will be facing Uganda on Friday.