Kenya’s Ulinzi Stars were crowned champions of the East Africa Military Games despite being held to a barren draw by Tanzania in the last match of the tournament played at Kasarani on Friday.
Ulinzi were a pale shadow of their great self that has seen superb performance in the tournament allowing Tanzania to outplay them in the match. Having played on Wednesday in a league match in Naivasha, the soldiers also showed signs of fatigue.
The Tanzanians had the better part of the match and in the 17th minute, Mohammed “Rio” Hassan had to be in superb shape to clear out a dangerous ball after Hussein Nyamandula had cut into the box.
Three minutes later, custodian Francis Ochieng made a superb save to deny Prosper Mkwana after the Tanzanians had launched a quick counter attack.
In the 25th minute, Ochieng himself tried his luck on the opposite end of the pitch but his freekick went high and over. A minute later, Mulinge James had his header cleared off the line from Kevin Amwayi’s corner in what was Ulinzi’s best chance of the match.
Prosper Mkwana had a rasping shot go inches over for the Tanzanians in the half hour mark as they sought for goals knowing only a win would propel them to the trophy.
Three minutes to the breather, Tanzania had a superb chance to break the deadlock but Fully Maganga threw away a superb chance. Maganga picked up the ball after Mohammed Hassan had lost possession at the edge of the box, but Keeper Francis ochieng denied him one on one.
In the second period, Kenya seemed to come alive and Mohammed Hassan saw his bouncing header go just over the bar frm Stephen Waruru’s corner. Ulinzi were dangerous on set pieces especially Mulinge Ndetto’s long throws but they never got much of it.
The Tanzanians pushed hard in the final minutes of the match, keeping their hosts constantly on the back foot. Coach Salim pulled off Stephen Waruru for Antony Mureithi as he sought to safeguard the point. Ulinzi’s Kevin Amwayi and Evans Amwoka were joint top scorers with Amwayi also walking home with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award.