Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar meet in the semi-final of this year’s edition of Senior Challenge Cup after both teams posted victories in their quarterfinal matches played at the KCC Lugogo Oval in central Kampala yesterday.
The situation heralds that at least one of the Tanzanian team would cruise into the final of the championship to be played at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Kampala on Saturday.
While Mainland dispatched Rwanda by two clear goals in the first quarterfinal, Zanzibar sent packing Burundi through post match penalties after a barren draw during the regulation time.
Zanzibar won by 6-5 penalties
A goal in each half by Amri Kiemba and John Bocco concluded the mission as coach Kim Poulsen is looking forward to his first final of the championship since taking charge of the side.
After dominating the game early in the opening half an hour, Mainland team, or Kilimanjaro Stars as the team is known, went ahead through Kiemba’s tap-in after 34 minutes.
Kiemba made full use of Mwinyi Kazimoto’s spade work on the left side of the Rwanda box to score with remarkable ease past goalkeeper Jean Claude Ndoli.
The goal was celebrated by few Tanzanians who turned out at the stadium as more raids were launched by the leaders to look for additional goal.
Trailing Rwanda tried to come back looking for an elusive equaliser as Kili Stars defence marshalled by Kelvin Yondani stood firm at the rear.
Mrisho Ngasa tormented Rwanda side and came close to increase the tally as the match headed into half time mark.
It was a showdown between Rwanda skipper Haruna Niyonzima and Mrisho Ngasa after the former was frustrated enough to lose temper and punch Ngasa.
Niyonzima escaped the red card miraculously and instead he was flashed with a yellow one much to the disappointment of the Kili Stars players.
It was an explosive game as the second half resumed with Kili Stars searching for additional goal.
Again it was Kazimoto whose power-packed shot was too hot to handle by Rwanda custodian Ndoli before John Bocco quickly slammed it home to send wild celebrations on the spectators’ terraces.
It was the fifth goal for Bocco who was slightly injured by the onrushing Ndoli but was relieved to have his name on the score sheet.
The game turned into fireworks as Rwanda coach made three substitutions to boost his team’s fighting spirit but it was all in vain.
Poulsen replaced John Bocco by Shaaban Nditi midway into the second half as Rwanda tried hard to launch sporadic attacks with Niyonzima pouring in a series of aerial cross into the Mainland box.
Rwanda striker Jean Claude Mugiraneza was a constant menace into the flesh of the Kilimanjaro Stars but custodian Juma Kaseja was extra alert to thwart the attacks.
The Rwanda team that reached the last year’s final in Dar es Salaam and lost to eventual winners Uganda looked a pale shadow of themselves as time was running out in the cool and breezy afternoon dominated by heavy clouds from the southern parts of the city off Lake Victoria shores.
Rwanda were eventually sent packing to book an early flight home.
Mainland: Juma Kaseja, Erasto Nyoni, Amri Maftah, Athumani Idd, Kelvin Yondani, Salum Aboubakar, Amri Kiemba, John Bocco/Shaaban Nditi, Mwinyi Kazimoto, Shomari Kapombe and Mrisho Ngasa.