Kampala. Kilimanjaro Stars have blown the riveting battle for the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup semi-finals wide open after grounding out a crucial 1-0 win over Zanzibar Heroes.
Juma Mgunda’s men have their sights fixed on the knock out stage with three teams in Group B competing for the remaining one place.
They sit second in the four-team group with three points from two games, three points adrift of leaders Kenya and two ahead of Zanzibar Heroes and Sudan.
The eight-time Challenge Cup champions need a win in their final group phase match to make it to the last four.
Kili Stars launched their Cecafa Cup campaign on a sour note, going down 1-0 to defending champions Harambee Stars of Kenya.
To stand a chance of making it to the knockout phase, they had to beat Zanzibar, who had forced Sudan to a 1-1 draw in their first match.
Despite winning the match, Kili Stars had to thank Zanzibar Heroes’ strikers for their lack of composure in front of the goal.
Heroes’ striker Kassim Khamis could have scored in the fifth minute, but he miscued a Mudathir Yahya precise pass.
After 30 minutes, Yahya was withdrawn, and his exit negatively impacted his team, which started struggling to get decent chances.
The lone goal for Kili Stars came in the 38th minute through Ditram Nchimbi, who was at the end of a free-flowing move.
He capitalised on poor goalkeeping by Suleiman Ali to give his team what turned out to be the winner.
Despite protests by the Zanzibar players who felt Haruna Abdallah was fouled in the build-up to the move, the referee pointed to the spot.
The 2017 finalists increased their tempo in the second half hoping to get an equaliser but their opponents held on to win.