Harambee Stars looking to build on Cecafa win
“This is a team that will soon come of age.” This was the verdict of Harambee Stars head coach Adel Amrouche after seeing his charges exhibit high level of tactical discipline, hunger and commitment to bag the 2013 edition of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup stretching their cup tally to six after an 11 year wait. (READ: Brilliant Harambee Stars win Challenge Cup)
Stars stormed to the finale and went ahead to lift the crown after a fairy tale run that saw them edge out Tanzania in the semis, a side that had overpowered 13-time winners Uganda Cranes at the quarter finals.
By all accounts, Amrouche’s squad which was a blend of experience and youth was the most consistent team in the tournament playing some fine, high energy football which proved too much for their opponents.
The Belgian built his squad on the philosophy of total football, a water tight defense, a dynamic and creative midfield and a lethal attack force that at times blew cold, but found their scoring touch as the tournament wore on.
In six matches, the Stars conceded just once; the best defensive record in the tourney while banging in ten goals. Joackins Atudo, the towering Azam centre half, AFC Leopards’ new recruit James Situma, Aboud Omar and David ‘Calabar’ Owino were outstanding in Stars’ rearguard forming a fearsome defensive barrier while Anthony ‘Teddy’ Akumu and Peter ‘Pinchez’ Opiyo were equally in glowing form as they roamed the area in front of the back four.
The duo played an integral role in foiling the moves by the opposition while offering a firm shield to the defense. Their high work rate allowed play maker Francis Kahata to move forward and fall back to pick the ball when needed as Clifton Miheso and new kid on the block Noah Wafula impressed on the flanks with pin-point deliveries.
Though Stars struggled at the initial stages of the tournament with goals coming from Atudo – who shouldered the burden of taking the spot kicks, red hot Allan Wanga rediscovered his form to justify his place in the team as the lead striker.
By the time Stars were facing the Falcons in the finale, Wanga was relishing the battle ahead; little wonder he tore the Falcons’ defense to shreds.
“I am very pleased with the boys and Wanga in particular. I told them to give the country a befitting gift and they obliged. I dedicate the trophy to the fans who stood by the team and supported us in our endeavours,” an ecstatic Amrouche said.
Amrouche and his technical bench will now take stock ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Currently ranked 117th, the Stars will be aiming to transfer their good Cecafa run to the qualifiers with the aim of boarding a Morocco-bound plane for the football showpiece after close to a decade-long absence.