BY NATNAEL YEBIO
Wednesday match day 6 of the CECAFA Under-15 boys challenge cup pitted group B’s Tanzania against South Sudan. In the early proceedings, Tanzania saw much of the ball. It looked clear from early on that South Sudan were going to stick to their defending tactics as they had done in their previous two matches.
Their defense keeping a high line throughout most of the first half. The thing about keeping a high line defense in football is that, if not utilized properly, can lead to constant break away from the opposition.
For the first twenty minutes South Sudan looked properly drilled when it came to using the offside trap, successfully catching the Tanzania players offside on various occasions. However the Tanzania players slowed down play and started passing the ball without rushing, in the 25th minute a through ball from Kamoga Daniel found winger Chasambi Ladaki who squared it to striker Kiambe Juma, which led to the first goal of the game.
Tanzania lost their first match of the tournament to Uganda. Coming into this game, Tanzania were not only hoping to win the match but score as many as they can. Throughout the match, they played with urgency, at times not even celebrating their goals, opting to restart play as quickly as possible.
In the first half, Tanzania added two more goals via Katuli Rabbin from the penalty spot and Fundumo Gaby. South Sudan now in danger of conceding as many as their near neighbors Sudan who conceded 6 against host nation Eritrea.
South Sudan were to suffer the same fate as their neighbors Sudan as Tanzania upped the ante in the second half and got three more goals from Fundumo Gaby, Katuli Rabbin and their impressive captain Chasambi Ladaki Juma.
The biggest headline of the day, however, was not about Tanzania’s big win nor was it anything related to football. As the South Sudan players were heading into the tunnel they were received by the Sudan nation team, the beauty of that particular moment saw both set of players embracing each other. Another instance of how football can play a pivotal role in the sustainability of peace in world in general and in our region in particular.
In the late kickoff of the day, it was Ethiopia who took on Rwanda. Ethiopia have been accorded the warmest of welcomes by spectators in both of their previous games. The Walia Ibex looked better in their last match against South Sudan earning a hard fought draw when they equalized deep down into injury time.
In their third match against Tanzania, they looked more confident on the ball. Tsegaye Eyueal pulling the strings in the middle of the park where as the diminutive winger Muche Nahom was doing damage down the left hand side, his marker Ishimwe Moise finding it hard to stick to him.
This was Muche Nahom’s first start, one has to question why Coach Betiglu Befikadu didn’t start him in the previous two matches. The number 14 was causing all types of havoc in the left wing, nutmeging Rwanda’s Mwizerwa Eric in one occasion as Coach Rwasamanzi Yves looked visibly annoyed and animated in the touchline. He was not happy that his side weren’t closing down the Ethiopians fast enough.
With Ethiopia on top of things, Rwanda somehow managed to open the score in the 34 minute, when Iradukunda Siradji found himself in the edge of the Ethiopia penalty box with the ball and no body marking him, he took his time to curl the ball into the left hand corner of the goal.
Goalkeeper Derese Kidus could do nothing but stare as the ball made its way into the back of the net. That took the snuff out of the Ethiopian players as Rwanda went on to add two more goals in quick successions, first from Iradukunda Pacifique and then via their captain Hoziyana Kenedy.
In the first half, Ethiopia played beautifully by all measures, yet they couldn’t make count their dominant display of possession football nor their ability to dribble past their markers into goals.
Rwanda proving their superiority to the one aspect of football that matters the most, scoring goals.
Ethiopia under 15 national football team might have made history by becoming the first Ethiopian national side to have played in Eritrea in nearly two decades but with this loss and only one match left to play, they are out of the competition.
Ethiopia should be proud of themselves for the kind of football they played during this tournament, with the right care and attention, the current crop of U15 side have the potential to be good football players.
Match day #7 of the competition will see host nation Eritrea take on group leaders Kenya in the penultimate game of the day while Somalia will play against Sudan in the early kickoff.