Match Day 2
Uganda vs. Ethiopia
Rwanda vs. South Sudan
Match day two of the Cecafa U15 tournament currently underway in Eritrea saw Uganda take on Ethiopia in the early kickoff.
Under the typical winter weather of Asmara, Uganda national team came out on top with a resounding 3-0 thumping of their opponents. While the age of some of their top players of the day came under scrutiny from the spectators, often accompanied by boos and jeers whenever one of those suspected players were on the ball, the Ugandans went about their usual business, opening the score line within 10 minutes via Ogwal Devis who later on would end up getting his second of the day and his team’s third. Uganda’s Coach, Magerwa Jackson, attributed the difference in physic between both set of players and the advantage his team had over the Ethiopians to the team’s diet. The Ethiopian players, making history by being the first Ethiopian football side to play in Eritrea since the recent rapprochement between both countries, put on a spirited display of football on the day but their opponents’ physical prowess proved to be too much throughout the match as they couldn’t get past a very strong Ugandan backline.
In the second and final game of the day, Rwanda played against South Sudan. In a goalless lackluster first half both teams canceled out each other. Second half was an improvement on the first, as Rwanda coach Rwasamanzi Yves made a halftime substitution bringing on the pacey Irakoze Jean Paul for Mugisha Edrick and within five minutes of the restart Rwanda took the lead through Irahamye Eric when a long ball from the back split the South Sudanese defense and found the attacker. South Sudan, looking to equalize, first brought on Nyok Athiei Nyok, then the aptly named Nelson Mandela Thomas and Edward Paul. However it was Rwanda that got the next goal. Irahamye Eric, once again finding himself clean through on goal, scored with a first time shot past the hapless South Sudanese goalkeeper. It wasn’t long before he got his third goal and, undoubtedly, his man-of-the-match award at the final whistle. Eric was simply having one of those days when everything he did came off and was virtually unplayable.
Match Day 3
Kenya vs. Sudan
Burundi vs. Somalia
Match day three of the Cecafa under 15 tournament saw Kenya take on Sudan for their second match. After having convincingly won their first match 3-0 against Somalia, Kenya were looking forward to record their second win. Sudan, playing their first match of the tournament, couldn’t simply avoid the fate the Somalis suffered in the hands of the Harambee stars; it was already 3-0 within 28 minutes. What the Kenya football federation is currently doing with their youth football development programs is already paying dividends. The Kenyans look like serious football players, their movements on and off the ball, their positional sense in the field resembles that of seasoned professional rather than amateur football players. Sudan have nothing to be ashamed of on the day, this was just experience triumphing over raw undrilled talent.
The second game of the day saw Burundi face off against Somalia. Burundi, confident on the back of their first victorious match against hosts Eritrea, were looking to continue their winning ways, especially after having witnessed group leaders win their second match of the tournament in the early kickoff. Wining against Somalia would definitely put Burundi in a good place to qualify for the semi-finals. Somalia, on the other hand, were hoping to recover from their first match defeat by Kenya. In a lively first half, Burundi took the lead through Irakoze Jean Darcy when he pounced on a loose ball from the goalkeeper, slotting it in the back of the net. Somalia tried everything in the first half. Particularly through their talented number 10, Mohamed Omar Daud. They were to be rewarded one minute from the end of the first half when Nur Mohamed Ali saw his speculative shoot end in the back of the net to the surprise of the Burundi goalkeeper, Irankunda Osana.
Somalia picked up exactly where they left off in the second half, threatening the Burundi goal on numerous occasions. However, a momentary lack of communication between center backs Sabir Hassan and Nadir Shine of Somalia allowed Burundi striker Inteyiteka Jean to score his team’s second and final goal of the game as Somalia couldn’t mount a comeback against a very stubborn Burundi side. Game ended 2-1 in favor of Burundi, leaving host nation Eritrea needing to win their second match of the tournament against Sudan on Tuesday if they are to have any hopes of progressing to the semi-finals of the competition.
Match day 4
Tanzania vs. Uganda
South Sudan vs. Ethiopia
The CECAFA U15 tournament currently underway in Asmara Eritrea is beginning to take shape with the boys’ competition heading into its fourth day of matches. Monday saw Uganda take on Tanzania. Uganda had won their opening match against Ethiopia on Saturday, a match that witnessed the stark difference in physic between both sets of players. The match between Uganda and Tanzania had little between both teams. In an equally contested first half, referee Sabri Mohammed of Sudan had to halt play on numerous occasions for fouls committed by both teams. In fact it was Uganda that broke the deadlock through a free kick they won on the edge of the penalty box which was sweetly struck by Mutyaba Travis. As soon as the ball left his foot, Tanzania goalkeeper Miraji Rashid had no chance as the ball ended in the back of the net. The first half ended with Uganda leading. Second half was as physical as the first with both teams vying to get the upper hand. However, it was Uganda that got the next goal. Mutyaba Travis, once again, in the thick of things as he magically dribbled past four Tanzania players and slotting his shot past the Tanzanian goalkeeper, sealing Uganda’s second win.
Second match of the day between South Sudan and Ethiopia ended 1-1. Ethiopia looked better in their second match of the competition. What they had lacked in physical strength in their previous match they made up for with their good abilities on the ball and their pace in this game, even threatening the South Sudan goal via Korame Tiamrat. However, with Ethiopia dominating the ball, South Sudan got the first goal of the game through an indirect free-kick, their lanky midfielder Tet James heading the ball from close range past goal keeper Derese Kidus as first half ended with South Sudan leading. In a closely contested second half Ethiopia continued dominating, with South Sudan opting to sit back and defend their one goal lead.
With time running down, Ethiopia coach Solomon Meka used all his substitutes and went on an all-out attack. Ethiopia threw everything at South Sudan short of the kitchen sink. Three minutes from time, Ethiopia’s Negash Abdulfeta was fouled inside the penalty box by Godfrey Nyoma, referee William Oloya duly pointing to the penalty spot. Ethiopia’s Fentie Fitsum, making no mistakes from the spot, made it 1-1. Ethiopia played magnificently on the day. South Sudan, knowing they couldn’t go toe to toe against their counterparts, were at times physical and chose to go long for most of the game. After the game Ethiopia’s coach Solomon Meka said he was proud of the way his team played.
Match day five
Burundi Vs Kenya
Eritrea Vs Sudan
Match day five of the CECAFA U15 boys challenge cup began with the early kick off between Burundi and Kenya. Both teams, confident from their previous two wins, were looking to record their third and put one foot in the semi-finals. In a windy afternoon at the stadium, Burundi were an equal match for the Harambee stars as they proved their first win of the tournament against Eritrea was no fluke. Yet it was Kenya that took the lead through their blonde winger, Harely Gil, when he scored after a free kick hit the post and he was the quickest to react to the rebound. Kenya has been marvelous in their first two matches and it looked like this was going to be just another day at the office for them. Nonetheless Burundi kept playing their game coming close to equalizing in the 35th minute when goalkeeper Lwangu Alvin spilled what looked like a routine catch with Shaka Brice heading the ball into goal but his effort was cleared off the line by Kevin Wangaya. Burundi, however, equalized through Inteyiteka clear chance on goal burying his shot in the back of the net. Burundi one, Kenya one. As a draw was suitable for both teams the rest of the second half saw less intensity from the players, game ending in 1-1.
The second highly anticipated match of the day saw host nation Eritrea take on Sudan. Wearing their new second kit that pays homage to the national flag, Eritrea looked a much improved side. This time around coach Mekonen chose to start Natan Berhe from the beginning. Natan had an immediate impact in the last match when he came on as a second half substitute. This time around again Natan was the link between midfield and the attack string pass after pass to his teammates. Sudan couldn’t keep the lad quiet. In the right hand side Temesghen Tesfai was proving to be a handful for the Sudanese left back Mustafa Musa, getting past him on a numerous occasions and swinging in crosses to the tall Eritrean striker Ahmed Awad. Ten minutes into the first half, Temesghen Tesfai dribbled past two Sudan players and put the ball through the legs of goal keeper Jehad Mokhtar to the jubilation of the home crowd. This was the start coach Mekonen was hoping for. The fans waited another ten minutes for the second goal; this time around a shot by Esrom Rezene was deflected into the back of the net. The Sudanese players looked dejected at halftime. The stadium erupted into cheers and songs as the players headed into the dressing room for halftime. Second half began with the Red Sea boys pushing for more goals. Eritrea’s striker, Ahmed Awad, who had given Sudan’s center back duo’s Mayaser Hashim and Zakaria Ahmed a torrid time in the first half got his team’s third and appropriately went to the corner flag and did his Cristiano Ronaldo Siuuu celebration. Eritrea was now cruising. Their unrelenting attack continued once again. Ahmed Awad, this time, jumped above his marker to head in a cross from Natan, getting his second and his nation’s fourth. Eritrea weren’t done yet. Temesghen Tesfai, who had been fantastic on the right hand side all day long, got his first of the day and Eritrea’s fifth. Ahmed Awad, however, wasn’t going home without getting his hat-trick, and before the end of normal time, he did just that as he beat the offside trap, shrugging his marker and keeping his composure to put the ball past the hapless goalkeeper. This was a resounding win for the Eritreans. One has to wonder why they didn’t play like this in their first game; perhaps it was nerves. With the home fans behind them once and again Eritrea will look forward to recording their next win against Kenya on Thursday.
Match day six will see South Sudan face off Tanzania while Ethiopia plays against Rwanda.