Kenya emerged victorious against Zanzibar with a 3-2 win on penalties in a full-blooded encounter at the Kenyatta Stadium on Sunday to claim the 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup.
Harambee Stars, the hosts of the tournament, were heavy favorites against a Zanzibar side that had overcome insurmountable odds to make it to the final; none more so than the shock defeat to the Uganda Cranes in the semi-final.
The scorching heat in Machakos was no match for the home supporters who were in full voice during the build up to the match, quite rightly fancying their chances given their rich vein of form in the competition.
It didn’t take long for the stadium to erupt in delirious celebrations, as Ovella Ochieng opened the scoring with a sublime finish, with just five minutes on the clock.
Zanzibar had a hard time penetrating past Kenya’s backline, as the Stars defense proved impenetrable having not conceded a single goal throughout the tournament.
The gallant islanders were not to be denied for long, as they found the equalizer three minutes to stoppage time through substitute Khamisi Musa.
Kenya restored their lead in extra time when Musa Mohammed capitalized on slapstick goalkeeping from Mohammed Abraham, and looked on course to clinch the coveted prize up until some comical defending saw them concede through Khamisi Musa who grabbed his second of the day; remarkably sending the match to penalties.
The incomparable Patrick Matasi deservedly received plaudits for the shoot out, as the reigning Goalkeeper of the Year in the Sportpesa Premier League stopped three penalties to shatter the hopes of Zanzibar.
The trio of Jockins Atudo, Wesley Onguso and Samuel Onyango dispatched from the spot-kick to propel Kenya to victory with their seventh Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, and their first since 2013.
The victory bore greater significance to Kenya as it was a massive unifying factor amid political tension brought about by a prolonged and largely divisive presidential election.
Kenya’s next major assignments is in the qualifying stages of the Africa Cup of Nations with a massive clash against Ghana on March 23.