04 Dec, 10:30
It is often said that Western Kenya is the bedrock of football in Kenya, and indeed, it was a great honour for the county of Mulembe to be the stage for what promises to be a nail-biting CECAFA contest.
After a gloomy season for Harambee Stars, there was something to smile about, as the home-based players under the tutelage of Belgian Paul Put, staged a champion-esque performance against an equally strong Amavubi side.
The heavy downpour could do nothing to dampen the spirits of the sizeable crowd at Bukhungu, this in itself a statement that indeed the region had been starved of football. Good football.
The infamous ‘Seven People’ who had finally had their say on the ‘Okumbi Must Go’ talk, were finally justified at least going by the quality displayed on the afternoon. Harambee Stars looked to play with plan and purpose. Duncan Otieno bossed the midfield with Whyvonne Isuza, and displayed utter class.
Duncan Otieno Cracker
Besides Duncan's Oscar performance at the centre of the pack, the AFC Leopards captain had an afternoon to remember getting his first goal in national team colours. It wasn't just a goal. It was a well taken screamer that left Eric Ndayishimiye with no answers, sending the entire stadium in rapture. It is a goal that was reminiscent of the Dennis Oliech ‘click click bang’ 25-yard rocket that Dennis Oliech scored 6 years ago at Nyayo Stadium against Guinea. It is such moments that football faithfuls relive for years on. In fact, we already can line up that goal for contention for goal of the tournament.
KPL 2017 Top scorer Masoud Juma put forth a strong case for himself too, and indeed justified why he deserved to take the Golden Boot this season.
Kenya deservedly went top of the group, and you certainly cannot put to question Paul Put’s ability, judging by the selection and play.
Consistency has been Harambee Star’s Achilles Heels, and we hope that they can maintain the good run. Kenyan fans deserve everything from the CECAFA this year, and Paul Put should offer nothing less.
Uganda Cranes are top favourites to win the CECAFA and you certainly can expect them to be a strong opponent to Kenya’s charge. You got to give it up to them; They are a good side, with massive quality in the bag plus the experience. On their CV too, is the record for CECAFA defending champions and we should expect them to put up a strong case in their defense.
Libya and Tanzania played to a goalless draw, but both sides had massive chances in the game, and you can be sure that both sides will give Kenya a run for her money.
However, as we drew the curtains on match day one, we also got our fair share of servings with off-pitch drama, as the Rwandese national team declined the accommodation offered to them. It was indeed shameful to see the Amavubi handed a dilapidated hotel that doesn't meet bare minimum standards. It therefore goes without saying that besides the stadia facilities, it is vital for our football administrators to put in mind that while selecting match venues, accommodation and other such amenities are key.
After a couple of seasons out in the cold, CECAFA is back and I cant stop rubbing my hands in delight as we look forward to an explosive fortnight of total football.