By Juma Pondamali
Harambee Stars were on Sunday crowned this year’s Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup winners.
Stars required the heroics of Posta Rangers goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, who saved three penalties, for the hosts to lift the trophy they last won in 2013.
The post-match celebrations told of a team that had been starved of taste of victory. The fans, including Deputy President William Ruto danced and hugged.
The friendly mien, complete with Mexican wave, made the fully packed stadium fun to be in.
Besides ending their four-year regional title drought, Harambee Stars walked home richer after pocketing the Sh3 million prize money. Ruto added to their kitty after giving them Sh5m, while Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and his Nairobi counterpart Mike Sonko gave the triumphant team Sh1 million each.
Kenya twice threw away the lead to draw against Zanzibar in regular and extra times, with substitute Khamis Makame Mussa’s brace exposing the hosts’ defensive frailties as the match headed into the dreaded penalties.
And fresh from winning CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup title, Kenya National team Harambee Stars was awarded on Monday by gaming firm Sportpesa.
The Kenyatta stadium show where the Stars shone against their Zanzibar opponents Zanzibar Heroes, the win attracted KSh3m as part of rewarding and celebrating their victory.
Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri presented the team with the cash at a luncheon held in their honour at a Nairobi hotel by Football Kenya Federation (FKF).
Stars won their seventh regional trophy after edging hard-fighting Zanzibar 3-2 on post match penalties following a pulsating 1-1 draw in regulation that turned into a 2-2 stalemate after extra time.
Karauri hailed the victory as a stepping stone towards greater things for the team that finished the tournament unbeaten, a feat not achieved since the 1983 Senior Challenge Cup in Sudan.