Hosts Kenya has been denied a chance to defend their COPA Africa title after going 5-4 down to Tanzania in post-match penalties this after a scoreless draw in regular time; the semi-final clash staged at the MPESA Foundation Academy on Wednesday 4 December.
Tanzania had come to the game on a back of a heavy win over Uganda in the quarters and they looked to continue their dominance over their East Africa opponents in the earlier proceedings; Paul Nyerere being a constant threat to the home side.
His first message of intent was in the eight-minute when he connected well to a cross from Shauri Anyimira but his goal-bound effort wasn’t that strong to trouble Ismael Tole in the Kenyan goal.
Kenya who were growing in the game had a penalty appeal minutes after the half-hour mark when Ali Kamalu was brought down in the box by Tanzania captain Gerald Kapanga but the referee was going to hear none of it; the half ending in a scoreless draw.
Ibrahim Kasimu thought he had put Tanzania into the lead two minutes after the resumption. The striker beat of a series of Kenya defenders before slotting the ball past Ismael Tole but the assistant referee’s flag was already up much to the amazement of the Tanzania bench.
The scare forced Kenya to make two double substitutions with Mwinyi Nasoro and Shaban Juma coming on for Ali Kamalu and Leonard Okuku respectively. Tanzania reacted to the changes by bringing on Innocent for Raphael Boniface.
Tanzania continued to attack the Kenyan goal with Nyerere once again, in the 58th minute, heading inches wide after connecting well to an Innocent cross. Tanzania looked the better side to find a goal in the late proceedings but Kenyan defense would hold the pressure to send the game to post-match penalties.
Kenya penalties scored penalties came from Hamisi Hamisi, Fredrick Onyango, Marcos Odhiambo and Nassoro Mwinyi with Mohammed Mabruk and Bilal Kibwana missing their kicks. On the Tanzania side, Mohammed Rai, Edward Bernard, Paul Nyerere, Ibrahim Kasimu and Frank Stephen tucked their penalty with Haroun Mdile missing his effort.
Drama ensued in the penalty shootout when Kenya was allowed to retake one of their spot-kick by Nassoro after the Tanzania keeper Ramadhan Chuma had saved his kick. The second assistant intimating that Ramadhan had come off his line early with the Tanzania players and bench protesting the decision. Ramadhan, however, was to turn the hero for his side once again after saving the deciding penalty taken by Kibwana.
Tanzania will now meet Zimbabwe in the final after the latter overcame Zambia 4-3 in post match penalties in the other semi-final; both teams having battled to a 2-2 draw in regular time.