Kakamega Homeboyz goalkeeper Ibrahim Wanzala was the hero for Kenya after he saved two penalties to help the Junior Stars defeat Tanzania 4-3 and qualify for the final of the CECAFA U18 Boys Championship at the Jomo Kenyatta Stadium in Kisumu, yesterday.
The closely fought semi-final contest had ended 0-0 in normal and extra time and the winner, to face Uganda, who had already defeated Rwanda 1-0 in the other semis, had to be decided on penalties. Tanzania took the first penalty which was coolly converted by Benjamin Ramadhan, and Kenya’s Collins Omondi, who had come on as a second-half substitute, stepped up to slot home their first kick for the Junior Stars.
Said Said took the honours for Tanzania’s second penalty but Wanzala dived the right way to make a great save. Amos Wanjala then made it 2-1 for Kenya before Inja Dida scored for Tanzania for a 2-2 result. Kenya had the chance to make it 3-2 but Stanley Omondi saw his weak effort saved by goalkeeper Anthony Pemba.
Falice Ingunde then scored Tanzania’s fourth penalty and Kenya responded with Humphrey Aroko doing the same for the Junior Stars. Wilson Shariff then came in for Tanzania’s fifth penalty but Wanzala pulled another great save to keep Kenya’s hopes alive.
Wanzala’s great heroics left the honours for Syphas Otieno to take Kenya to the final, and he took the initiative to plant his penalty past Pemba to the delight of a huge crowd at the venue. In the early fixture, Uganda booked their place in the final after edging Rwanda 1-0 courtesy of Abubaker Mayanja’s second-half strike at the same venue.