BY NATNAEL YEBIO
Matchday 9 began with the final group matches in group A, Burundi played against Sudan in the early 2 o’clock kickoff. This match had little significance for Sudan who was already knocked out after their latest defeat in the hands of Somalia.
For Burundi, this was a chance to advance into the semis as group winners. As predicted, Burundi outplayed their opponents in the first half, scoring three within 40 minutes of the first half. First via Inteyiteka Florien in the 8th minute, then Mugisha Adamo in the 20th and Iteriteka jean in the 42nd minute of play.
Burundi is now level on points with Kenya. The Hurambee Stars sitting on top of the group with a narrow 3 goals difference from rivals Burundi.
In the second half, Burundi came out hoping to score three more goals. But Burundi only managed to add one more goal in the second half, the game finishing 4-0. Burundi ends their group matches as runner’s up, while Kenya secure top spot.
The second match of the day saw Eritrea and Somalia play a one-all draw. In the aftermath of their last-minute loss to Kenya, it was hard to see how the Red Sea Camels were going to pick themselves up for this game.
The Eritreans played beautiful football against tournament favorites Kenya. Despite their dominate display, however, they lost that match 2-1 when they conceded an injury-time goal to the opposition.
Coming into this game there were hopes that Coach Mekonen Zewde was going to rotate his side, and give his second string of players some minutes, however, Zewde chose to start his original eleven.
It was understandable if the red sea camels lacked the intensity they had in their last two matches against Sudan and Kenya. After all they had nothing to play for in this match. They were susceptible to constant attacks from the Somali’s on numerous occasions. It was during this period of domination that the Ocean Star’s won a penalty kick when Ermias Yosef of Eritrea brought down his opponent.
Mohamed Omar who initially won the penalty kick stepped up to take it. Goalkeeper Essey Tesfazghi went the other way but Mohamed saw his kick hit the post. In a subdued stadium Asmara, the first half ended with a goalless stalemate.
Somalia came into the second half with their foot to the pedal as they took the lead within 5 minutes of the restart, Eritrea rallied back after they conceded and got the equalizer from their diminutive winger Temesghen, dispatching his long-distance free-kick into the back of the net.
In a rainy and closely contested second half, both teams tried to get the winner with no avail. Based on how the afternoon played out, it was a fair result for both teams.
Matchday 10 of the tournament will see group B teams play their last games, as Ethiopia take on Tanzania while Uganda will play Rwanda.
Uganda and Rwanda who have already booked their place in the semis will battle it out in order to win their group and avoid Kenya in the semis.