BY NATNAEL YEBIO
Match day five of the CECAFA under-15 boys challenge cup began with the early kick off between Burundi and Kenya. Both teams, confident from their previous two wins, were looking to record their third and put one foot in the semi-finals.
In a windy afternoon at the stadium surprise packages of the tournament Burundi were an equal match for the Harambee stars as they proved their first win of the tournament against Eritrea was no fluke.
Yet, it was Kenya who took the lead through their blonde winger Harely Gil when he scored after a free kick hit the post and he was the quickest to react to the rebound. Kenya have been marvelous in their first two matches and it looked like this was going to be just another day at the office for them.
Nonetheless, Burundi kept playing their game coming close to equalizing in the 35th minute when goalkeeper Lwangu Alvin spilled what looked like a routine catch Shaka Brice heading the ball into goal but his effort was cleared off the line by Kevin Wangaya.
Burundi however equalized through Inteyiteka clear chance on goal burying his shot in the back of the net. Burundi one, Kenya one.
As a draw was suitable for both teams, the rest of the second half saw less intensity from the players, game ending in 1-1.
In the second highly anticipated match of the day saw host nation Eritrea take on Sudan. Wearing their new second kit that pays homage to the national flag, Eritrea looked a much improved side. This time around coach Mekonen chose to start Natan Berhe from the beginning.
Natan had an immediate impact in the last match when he came on as a second half substitute. This time around again Natan was the link between midfield and the attack string pass after pass to his teammates.
Sudan couldn’t keep the lad quite. In the right hand side, Temesghen Tesfai was proving to be a handful for the Sudanese left back Mustafa Musa, getting past him on a numerous occasions and swinging in crosses to the tall Eritrean striker Ahmed Awad.
Ten minutes into the first half Temesghen Tesfai dribbled past two Sudan players and put the ball through the legs of goal keeper Jehad Mokhtar to the jubilation of the home crowd. This was the start coach Mekonen was hoping for.
The fans waited another ten minutes for the second goal, this time around a shot by Esrom Rezene was deflected into the back of the net.
The Sudanese players looked dejected at halftime. The stadium erupted in to cheers and songs as the players headed into the dressing room for halftime.
Second half began with the red sea boys pushing for more goals. Eritrea’s striker Ahmed Awad, who had given Sudan’s center back duo’s Mayaser Hashim and Zakaria Ahmed a torrid time in the first half, got his team’s third and appropriately went to the corner flag and did his Cristiano Ronaldo Siuuu celebration.
Eritrea were now cruising. Their unrelenting attack continued once again. Ahmed Awad this time jumped above his marker to head in a cross from Natan, getting his second and his nations fourth.
Eritrea weren’t done yet, Temesghen Tesfai who had been fantastic on the right hand side all day long, got his first of the day and Eritrea’s fifth.
Ahmed Awad, however, wasn’t going home without getting his hat-rick, and before the end of normal time, he did just that as he beat the offside trap, shrugging his marker and keeping his composure to put the ball past the hapless goalkeeper. This was a resounding win for the Eritreans.
One has to wonder why they didn’t play like this in their first game, perhaps it was nerves. With the home fans behind them once and again Eritrea’s will look forward to record their next win against Kenya on Thursday.
Match day six will see, South Sudan face off Tanzania while, Ethiopia playing against Rwanda.