BY NATNAEL YEBIO
Somalia played against Sudan in match day #7 of the CECAFA under-15 tournament that is underway in Asmara. Both teams sat in the bottom of their group after having lost both of their last two matches.
This match was a chance for both teams to get their first points of the competition. Sudan lost their first two matches to Kenya and Eritrea respectively conceding 10 goals in the process, while Somalia was defeated 3-1 by Kenya and 2-1 by Burundi.
During the first 40 minutes of the first half, Somalia in their blue kit looked the far better side of the two, scoring first from Mahad Abduqadir then through Abdullahi Omar; Sudan yet to score in this tournament put on a rather abject performance throughout the match only testing the Somali goalkeeper Abdinasir Omar in the 80 minute when Sudan’s captain Zekaria Ahmed struck a free kick which was saved by the goalkeeper.
With this lose, Sudan have booked their flight ticket back home with one match left to go.
The second and penultimate match of the day was between Eritrea and Kenya. Kenya who have been the standout performers in this tournament drew their last match against Burundi. Moments after the end of the game, Coach Sagar Lakhani said his team took the match lightly and they are going to need to be at their best if they were going to beat Eritrea.
Eritrea came to this match on the back of their emphatic win against their neighbor Sudan. The red sea camels dominated early play, Kenya looked bereft of any ideas on how to stop the ball or take it from the Eritreans.
Stadium Asmara was packed from one end to the other. Home team confident by the kind of football they were playing and cheered by the enthusiastic crowed threatened the Kenyan goal.
It was unbelievable to see this was the same team that lost to Burundi in their opening match. The team in the field looked different and played with swagger. Left footed Temesghen Tesfai who rightly called Messi was proving to be hard to mark as he skipped past his marker Mugweru Isaac on multiple times,
“Red Sea, Red Sea, Red Sea” shouted the crowed obviously happy by what they were seeing. On other hand, the Harrambee stars found it hard to cope with Eritrea’s intensity. Ahmed Awad, who scored a hatrick in his last game, gave Kenya goal Keeper Lwangu Alvin a scare in the 20th minute when he disposed him in the penalty area only for a Kenya player to clear off the ball.
In the 25th minute, Eritrea’s hard work on and off the ball was all to become undone when Kenya caught the Eritrea backline off guard after they quickly played an indirect free kick and set up Kavin Wangaya clear off on goal thus scoring to the surprise of the home crowd.
The home fans kept pushing the red sea camels. Eritrea were not going to be deterred as they kept playing their game. Ahmed Awad, Temesgen Tesfai and Esrom Rezene giving their markers all kinds of headache.
Halftime couldn’t have come soon enough for the Kenya’s as they looked out of breath.
Eritrea started the second half lively as they pushed for the equalizer. Coach Mekonen brought in the influential Natan Berhane in midfield. Eritrea kept pushing for the equalizer, Temesgen ‘Messi’ seeing his effort hit the woodwork.
Nonetheless, ten minutes into the second half, Eritrea equalized via the leading goal scorer of the tournament Ahmed Awad heading the ball into the net to the jubilation of the home fans.
Ahmed Awad would go on to have another golden chance near the end of normal time as he saw his effort saved by the impressive Lwangu Alvin.
As the minutes keep ticking to the end, Kenya were to have the final say deep into injury time, breaking down the right hand side as they found themselves one-on-one with the goal keeper, Mwaro Ibrahim finding himself at the end of a squared ball and with a clear shot on goal to an empty net.
The Eritrean Red Sea Camels gave Kenya, who in my opinion have so far been the standout performers in this tournament, a proper hideout.
Kenya might have looked like seasoned professionals in their last three games but against Eritrea they seemed out of ideas on how to stop their opponents as times resorting to wasting time and going down easily.
While some decisions might have went against Eritrea on the day but the way they played was the stuff of dreams.
Final score suggested otherwise at the end of the game but the Red Sea Camels left the stadium as heroes and to the adulation of their supporters. To the many kids who were inside the stadium supporting them, they have left a lasting impression.
Match day 8 will see Tanzania take on Rwanda, while Uganda will play South Sudan.
— Natti (@nattiyebio) August 22, 2019