Junior Stars demolish Somalia in CECAFA U-18 boys championship group stage finale


FOOTBALL Junior Stars demolish Somalia in CECAFA U-18 boys championship group stage finale

Festus Chuma 17:00 - 01.12.2023

Kenya secured the top spot in Group A of the CECAFA U18 regional football tournament after walloping Somalia.

Kenya finished at the top of Group A in the CECAFA U18 regional football tournament after defeating Somalia 4-1 in a match played at a capacity-filled Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega.

The result means that the Junior Stars have claimed nine points with ten goals from the three matches and will now face the runners-up from Group B in the tournament's semifinals.

Salim Babu made several changes to the team that faced Rwanda in their second group game, which was played at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu on Tuesday.

Aldine Kibet and Tryon Kariuki started from the bench as the Stars looked to finish at the top of the standings as they had already qualified for the semifinals.

Babu's counterpart, Omar Ahmed, made three changes to the starting line-up that took on Sudan in Kisumu three days ago.

Abdihasir Bahur and Mohamed Daud returned to the starting line-up as Somalia looked to secure a place in the last four.

Both teams struggled to create clear-cut chances in the opening stages of the encounter - displaying indecisiveness and poor finishing in front of goal. 

A chance was created in the seventh  by the home side when Adrian Oloo struck an effort from range that sailed narrowly wide of goal.

The Nairobi United midfielder  then got his next effort straight on target when he fired a left-footed drive on  10 minutes, but it was easy pickings for Abdikair Mohamed.

In the 19th minute Somalia's  Abdihadif Abdi broke down the right flank to put in a cross that Ibrahim Wnzala was just unable to reach.

But their lead lasted just five minutes as Salim Babu's side managed to level matters courtesy of Humphrey Aroko's strike.

Abdikair Mohamed had to produce two good saves to deny Oloo and Wanjala  as the Ocean Stars shot-stopper kept Kenya  at bay. 

Aroko came close again with a strike from range that was expertly saved by the Somalia goalkeeper before the home crowd were up on their feet once more when Stanely Omondi made it 2-1.

Junior Stars continued to press Ocean Stars in search of more goals, forcing the visitors to sit back and absorb the pressure.

Substitute Aldrine Kibet found some space on the edge of the Somalia box and unleashed a low shot that narrowly missed the target as the hosts continued to squander their chances.

Omar Ahmed decided to make a tactical change on the hour-mark, substituting defensive midfielder Abdinasir Abdi for Abdidhafid Abdi. Abdinasir, who is Somalia's set-piece specialist, had an opportunity to score from a free-kick in a promising area, but the left-footed attacker's effort was blocked by the Stars' wall.

Kenya looked dangerous from aerial balls, which saw Tryon Kariuki force keeper Abdikair Mohamed into a comfortable save with a header as Junior Stars looked to extend their lead.

Junior Stars  pressed hard against the Somalia defense, and Aroko scored to complete a brace in the 66th minute, extending Kenya’s  lead to 3-1.

Six minutes later, Kibet unleashed a powerful shot from outside the box, making it 4-1 in favor of Kenya after Somalia had failed to clear their lines.

Abdulkadir Mohammed had the best opportunity to score but wasted two of his shots in the later stages, both of which were well saved by goalkeeper Ibrahim Wanzala. 

The loss means Somalia has been eliminated from the tournament after Rwanda beat Sudan to advance to the last spot in the other match that was played at Jomo Kenyatta Stadium in Kisumu. 

Kenya and Rwanda will now wait for the losers and winners of Group B after the matches between Tanzania vs. Zanzibar and Uganda vs. South Sudan which will be played on Saturday.

How they lined up:

Kenya: Ibrahim Wanzala, Sigmmunn Maina, Joseph Onyango, Lucas Kungu, Kevin Musambai, Stanley Omondi, Humphrey Aroko,  Elly Owande, Amos Wanjala, Adrian Oloo Duncan Oluoch 

Somalia: Abdikair Mohamed, Abdulle Abdulle, Abdulkadir Mohammed, Mohamed Ali, Mohamed Daud, Mohamed Abdulkadir, Idris Bilal, Abdifitah Hussein, Bile Wahilye, Abdiassis Bahur, Abdidhafid Abdi