Bakari puts out the Flames
Nurdin Bakari’s 37th minute strike was enough to hand Tusker Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup hosts, Tanzania, a semifinal slot after beating Malawi 1-0 at the National Stadium on Tuesday.
The defending champions will now face the Uganda Cranes, who earlier saw off Zimbabwe with a similar score line, on Thursday.
The Malawi Flames saw better of the ball overall but it is the Stars who put their chances to count.
Bakari, who had for long troubled Pililani Makupe, Ndaziona Chilemba and company in defence, controlled Mrisho Ngasa’s pass inside the area.
If his 37th minute fine execution with the outside of his right boot was sweet to over 40,000 home fans, it was bitter to the Malawians and goalkeeper Charles Swini as it beat him to his far right.
Thomas Ulimwengu should have given Boniface Mkwasa’s side the lead earlier after Ngasa’s deft work on the right but his weak shot was cleared out of danger by the Malawians.
Coach Kinnah Phiri’s Flames were to return a different package after recess and Tanzanian skipper and goalkeeper Juma Kasseja will have attested.
Ndaziona Chatsalira, John Banda and Joseph Kamwendo all tested Kasseja as the Flames turned up the pressure cooker.
But counter attacks from Tanzania kept them at bay. Ngasa’s solo run from his own half, beating a forest of bodies before Malawi’s James Sangala made a desperate interception, was one of those checks.
Mkwasa’s men held off Malawi’s late challenge to book a repeat of last year’s edition semifinal against Uganda. Then, the Kilimanjaro Stars carried the day 5-4 on spot kicks after normal time had ended goalless.