Intercontinental Cup: Kenya pumps in four to seal spot in final

The Harambee Stars finished with six points, along with New Zealand, but will go through to Sunday’s final owing to a favourable goal difference.

Kenya player Odhimbo Dennis (in red) and Chinese Taipei player En-Le Chu in action at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday.   -  PTI

A spirited second-half display saw Kenya pump in four goals and gain a 4-0 win over Chinese Taipei to seal its spot in the Intercontinental Cup final in remarkable fashion. Kenya finished with six points, along with New Zealand, but will go through to Sunday's final owing to a favourable goal difference.

Kenya dominated the tie throughout, enjoying a lion's share of possession. Such was the domination that barring a few meek Taipei attacks, a large part of the match was played in and around the Taipei box.

Kenya had a couple of early chances when a header off a Cliffton Miheso corner was cleared off the goal-line and the rebound was floated in for Pistone Mutabma, whose meek header looped just above the crossbar.

Turning point

The turning point of the game came in the 23rd minute when Taipei's experienced custodian, Wen-Chieh Pan, had to be substituted owing to a knee injury. His replacement, Yu-Hung Chiu, was playing his first game of the tournament and he proved to be the game-changer.

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Taipei's only real chance of the half came in the 29th minute when Chien-Ming Wang unleashed a powerful drive from inside the box and Patrick Matasi dived acrobatically to his left to make a spectacular save.

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After having looked so menacing in the first half, Kenya soared into the lead by scoring two quick goals in a span of three minutes, within 10 minutes of the restart.

Quick goals

Dennis Odhiambo scored the first goal when he sneaked past his marker to tap in an Ovella Ochieng corner in the 52nd minute. And barely a minute after conceding, Taipei keeper Chiu got in a two-footed tackle to bring down Mutamba in the box. Jockins Atudo stepped up to take the spot-kick and buried the ball into the right corner to extend his side's lead.

Sensing they were a mere goal away from a spot in the final, the Kenyans increased the intensity of their attack a notch and were soon rewarded by a horrendous goalkeeping mistake. Chiu rushed off his line to deal with a long ball but made a complete mess of it, as super sub Timothy Otieno latched onto the loose ball and busted the net to score the all-important third goal.

Atudo completed a brace in the 88th minute when he scored off what was yet another glaring error from the goalkeeper. Chiu made two good saves but failed to clear the ball and an onrushing Atudo poked the ball into the net to seal a memorable victory for the Harambee Stars.

Final score: Kenya 4 (Odhiambo 52, Atudo 55, 88, Otieno 70) beat Chinese Taipei 0.

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