Joackins Atudo, Mike Baraza, Edwin Lavatsa and Abdalla Juma convert their penalties as Kenya cruise past 'Heroes' to set an eye on regional trophy
Kenya's Harambee Stars stormed the Cecafa Challenge Cup final after outclassing Zanzibar Heroes 4-2 in post match penalties after the two sides had remained deadlocked 2-2 after normal and added time.
Veteran striker Mike Baraza transformed his sparkling form of normal time to convert the first spot-kick as Joackins Atudo, Edwin Lavatsa and Abdalla Juma all followed suit converting theirs beating Zanzibar goalkeeper Ally Mwadini with relative ease.
The Heroes were unlucky in their penalty attempts scoring two with Aggrey Morris and Harun Nadar converting theirs while Khamis Khamis and Ali Osman fired wide.
The normal time of play had been a give and take affair with both sides going for the kill.
The Heroes drew the first blood in the 20th minute when Khamis Isa fired home a rocket shot after being set through from a right flank cross. Kenya responded eight minutes later when Harun Nadar headed into his own net, a long chip from Kevin 'Daddy' Omondi.
Harun was under pressure from Mike Baraza in an aerial tussle to nod into his own goal with custodian Mwadini poorly positioned having left his box.
The Heroes piled more pressure after the break and it was Aggrey Moris who put them ahead from the spot-kick awarded in the75th minute after Stars skipper Anthony Kimani had brought down the opposition striker inside the box.
When it seemed that the Heroes would over power Stars with just nine minutes left, Mike Baraza who was in red hot form, rose high to nod home an Edwin Lavatsa corner-kick to restore parity and take the game to extra time.
Nandwa had earlier in the game made substitutions bringing in Edwin Lavatsa for the tired Rama Salim while left-footed winger Paul Were came in for Clifton Miheso.
The game however, ended with each side having ten men after Zanzibar' Ahmed Adeyom was sent to early showers for a second book able offense after head butting Victor Ochieng.
Ochieng who was also a substitute was unlucky and had to be withdrawn because of injury. Nandwa at this point had no choice but to play with a man less having exhausted his substitutions.
Stars will now meet the winner between Uganda and Tanzania in the finals on Saturday.
Kenya FA President Sam Nyamweya congratulated the team for reaching the Cup final. “I am very happy after this exemplary performance. This team has surprised many, but not me. This is a young team that will go a long way in helping Kenyan football achieve greater heights. My congratulations to the entire team.”
The Kenyan team, led by stand in coach Nandwa was chosen to represent the country at the regional competition after head coach Henri Michel opted to remain at home and concentrate on preparing the 'first team' for the upcoming African Nations Championships (Chan) tournament.