Michael Olunga scored one of the best goals in the ongoing 2015 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup to salvage Kenya a point against Burundi in a Group B clash at the Awassa Stadium, Ethiopia on Wednesday (Nov. 25).
The Gor Mahia forward turned his marker inside out after a headed pass on his path from Jacob Keli before lashing home to cancel Amissi Tambwe’s early opener for the Swallows as the two sides battled to a 1-1 draw that leaves them tied top of the group on four points, though Stars have a better goal difference. Uganda, 4-0 winners over Zanzibar on Tuesday, are third on three points heading into final group stage matches.
A tight contest was blown open by the Burundians when Yanga SC hitman Tambwe found the back of Boniface Oluoch’s net after 11 minutes, the former Vital’O forward tapping home from close range after some lovely play by Sofapaka’s Fuadi Ndayisenga on Burundi’s left channel.
Kenya almost replied immediately but Clifton Miheso sent his header just wide of Arthur Rakaza’s goal after an inch-perfect cross from Omar Mbongi.
Burundi who had Gor Mahia’s Karim Nizigiyimana wearing the captain’s armband looked destined for a half time lead as Stars struggled to string passes together. However, Olunga stepped forward with his second goal of the competition in the 41st minute, hitting home after Keli headed Miheso’s cross from the left where the lanky forward wanted it.
The Gor Mahia man, restored to the starting lineup at the expense of Jesse Were, almost gave Stars the lead immediately after but couldn’t keep his half volley down, the two sides going into the half-time break tied 1-1.
Kenya were more assured in possession after the breather but could not find the winner. Olunga forced Rakaza to a fine near post save after 54 minutes with the keeper giving yet another right answer when the striker asked him a question after 78 minutes. Substitutes Christian Bwamy and Allan Wanga, coming on for Collins Okoth and Keli, added more urgency in attack for Kenya but the Burundian defence held firm.
Mathare United winger, Eric Johanna, who set up Keli’s opener in the 2-0 defeat of Uganda, almost grabbed a dramatic winner at the death but Burundi keeper Rakaza stood tall to deny Stars the three points.
The draw leaves the Group still open as all the top three teams can still advance into the quarters. Kenya face Zanzibar in their final match while Burundi will grapple with Uganda. The top two teams each of the three groups, plus the two best third-placed teams, will contest the quarterfinals.
Kenya Starting XI: Boniface Oluoch (GK), David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng, David ‘Calabar’ Owino, Noah Abich, Omar Mbongi, Collins Okoth, Teddy Akumu, Clifton Miheso, Johannah Eric, Jacob Keli, Michael Olunga
Subs: David Okello (GK), Musa Mohammed, Christian Bwamy, Ali Abondo, Kevin Kimani, Jesse Were, Allan Wanga
Burundi Starting XI: Arthur Rakaza (GK), Christopher Nduwarugira, David Nshimiyimana, Karim Nzigiyimana, Issa Hakizimana, Yussuf Ndikumana, Fuadi Ndayisenga, Cedric Amissi, Amissi Tambwe, Didier Kavumbagu, Gael Duhayindavyi
Subs: Jeff Nzokira, Stephane Rugonomugabo, Pistis Barenge, Fataki Kiiza, Shassir Nahimana, Laudit Mavugo, Nassor Niyonkuru
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