Nairobi, Kenya | AFP | Unheralded Eritrea stunned holders Kenya 4-1 to reach their first Cecafa Challenge Cup final in Kampala on Tuesday.
The Eritreans are competing at the Central and Eastern African eight-team tournament after years in the wilderness due to a regional war and their players absconding.
The multi-ethnic nation of less than 5 million who are 206th in the FIFA rankings, dominated the more experienced Kenyans with good ball control and crisp passes.
The Red Sea Camels, as Eritrea are known, were deservedly rewarded in the ninth minute when Kenyan striker Oscar Wamalwa headed into his own net while attempting to clear a dangerous cross off the line.
Eritrea then extended their lead four minutes into the second half when Abel Solomon Okbray’s thunderous shot beat the Kenyan ‘keeper Samuel Odhiambo all the way.
Kenya pulled one back when Wamalwa, who turned from villain to hero, tapped home from close range in the 52nd minute.
But second half substitute Michael Habte and Robel Abreha added two more goals for Eritrea to complete the biggest upset in the history of the tournament.
Eritrea coach Efrem Alemseghed was elated with the victory.
“I am very happy that my young team is through to the final for the first time. We mastered Kenya’s approach and knew what to do,” said Alemseghed.
Eritrea will take on Uganda in the final on December 19. The two sides also met in the group stage with the Ugandans winning 2-0.
The Ugandan Cranes, who have won the tournament more than any other team, saw off the challenge of neighbours Tanzania in the second semi-final after winning 1-0.