Sudan coach, Mubarak Suliman said immediately after beating Zambia 2-1 in the first semi-final match at Mombasa County Stadium on Tuesday, they were not afraid of any team they face in the final.
Suliman said he was happy with the way his players performed against the Zambians and expressed confidence to turn tables against their final opponents.
“I know the home team will have many supporters but that will not deter us from playing good soccer and winning the trophy,” the Sudanese tactician said.
And Kenya also beat 2011 champions Tanzania 1-0 in a semifinal clash played at the Nyayo Stadiium in Nairobi. The match, initially set for Machakos, was switched after a heavy downpour even after the teams had arrived on the Machakos Stadium, 60 kilometres outside of Nairobi.
Clifford Muheso, who earned a starting place this time, put Kenya ahead of the Kilimanjaro Stars after only three minutes with a neat finish after Tanzanian goalkeeper Ivo Mapunda had parried the ball back into play.
Last year, the team lost 1-0 to eventual champions Uganda Cranes in Kampala and now have an opportunity to make up for the defeat and end the country’s eleven year wait for the regional trophy.
This will be the third time Kenya have reached the final of the tournament with the other being in 2008 when it also ended in heart-ache after a 1-0 loss to then hosts Uganda Cranes.
Will it be third time lucky for the Stars? This is the big question that most home fans will want answered in the affirmative at the end of 90 minutes on Thursday.
Home-ground advantage coupled with high expectations from local fans should spur Stars to victory. Coach Adel Amrouche is likely to retain the same squad which has taken him this far meaning he will start Allan Wanga and Edwin Lavatsa upfront while Peter Opiyo and Francis Kahata anchor the midfield.
Ever since coming into this tournament, Sudan have proved that they are one of the favourites and could give the home team plenty of problems. They have some of the most lethal hit men in Mohammed Tahir and Salah Ibrahim who are likely to make the final an exciting affair.
Thursday’s fixtures (all matches at Nyayo Stadium). Third place play-off – Tanzania vs Zambia (2pm). Final – Kenya vs Sudan- (4pm).
- Sudan have won the regional tournament three times in 1980, 2006 and 2007.
- Sudan lost only one match during this year’s preliminary matches after they went down 1-0 to Uganda Cranes.
- Sudan beat Kenya 2-1 the last time they met in Nairobi and it was during the LG Cup played in 2011 at Nyayo Stadium.
- Kenya have won the regional tournament five times in 1975, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 2002.
- Kenya have lost in the last two Senior Challenge Cup finals in 2008 and 2012 to Uganda Cranes and when the tournament was held in Kampala.
- This is the first Cup final for Kenyan coach Adel Amrouche, who has been at the helm for less than one year.