SOMALIA shockingly beat Kenya 1-0 at Stade Umuco, Muyinga on Friday afternoon to win Group ‘A’ and storm into the Cecafa U17 Championship semi-finals. It was a beautiful treat for pundits who go for the underdogs but the Somalis, who had four points going into the final match of the pool, had warned they would “play the defense of our lives”, to avoid a predicted heavy defeat like the 4-0 Kenya handed hosts Burundi in the tournament opener on April 14.
Starting with 5-4-1 defensive formation, in the early minutes Somalia were unbreakable at the back and very dangerous on the counter. They also had numerous possession from the back which they booted up front to lone striker Farhan Mohamed Ahmed. And when he scored a great goal in the 15th minute, the Somalis had their tails up as Kenyans were shell-shocked.
With a goal in the bag, it was the most comfortable of tasks to apply dogged tactics to frustrate the Kenyans and force minutes to click away. The Somalis smelt their chance of a booming upset when they went into the break 1-0 up and opened strongly in the second period. A panicky Kenya just could not price open the nine-man chain in front of Somali ‘keeper Abdirahman Mohamed Jama.
At post-match Press conference Kenya coach Michael Amenga dwelt a lot on allegation that the referee was “biased”. That the ref left unpunished many Somali fouls and made too many incorrect calls against his team. But he sounded more accurate when concluding that his Kenya players were very complacent.
“Before the match they (his players) thought they would have it easy; that they’d just turn up for the win. Congratulations to Somalia, though, they were very brave and determined.”
Kenya qualified for the semis alongside Somalia after Burundi’s 1-0 over Ethiopia in Gitega equaled Kenya’s points tally (four) but was of inferior goal difference. Amenga’s boys will thus meet Group ‘B’ top team, Uganda who also looked very strong in their 3-0 drubbing of Sudan in Gitega on Wednesday.
Somalia team manager Mohamed Abdulle Farayare who had earlier announced his team’s intended tactics said they worked perfectly. “We turned Kenya into a very ordinary team, thanks to the boys playing to plan.
“ In fact Burundi who in my opinion have very talented boys, albeit much younger and smaller than the powerful Kenyans, would have had a chance if they had had the opportunity to see Kenya before their match. But now we have to sit and talk about how we shall take on whoever — Sudan or Tanzania who play the deciding qualifier on Sunday in Muyinga — we meet in the semi-finals on Wednesday.”