Kenya’s Harambee Stars are the inaugural Four Nations Tournament champions after seeing off Zimbabwe 3-1 in a pulsating final played at Bingu National Stadium.

Striker Michael Olunga netted a hat-trick while Zimbabwe’s consolation was an own-goal courtesy of defender Joseph Okumu in a match where both teams were reduced to 10 men.

Okumu, who plays for Stade de Reims, miscued a clearance , resulting the ball hitting his own net just four minutes into the match.

But the Harambee Stars quickly recovered and levelled as Olunga headed in past Zimbabwe goalkeeper Bernard Donovan in first-half stoppage time.

Moments later, Zimbabwe were reduced to 10 men after Teenage Hadebe got a second yellow card.

Then a commotion led to Warriors coach Norman Mapeza being red carded after storming the pitch in protest of referee Godfrey NKhakananga’s decisions.

Olunga, who plies his trade in Qatar for Al-Duhail, then put Kenya in the led in the 62nd minute after pouncing on a rebound.

Kenya was then also reduced to 10 men after Richard Odada got his second yellow card.

But Olunga was at it again three minutes from time to seal the victory for Harambee Stars.

Kenya coach Engin Firat said he was glad that his charges had embraced a winning mentality.

He said: “I think we will have good results in June if I put the team together and have them mentally prepared.

“The crop of players we shall be having in June will be the most determining factor. We don’t have a large pool of players to choose from compared to teams like Senegal and Morocco.

“I believe it depends on the squad; if one or two players are out, it may have a significant impact on the team. We will be prepared if I combine them all.”

Mapeza on the other hand, said despite the loss they had a wonderful tournament.

“Second half we had one or two issues over penalty appeals, we had a commotion, their coach was on the pitch and I was also on the pitch. So unfortunate I was red-carded and that affected my boys physiologically. But it was a good tournament and we just say congratulations to Kenya,” said Mapeza during the post-match interview.

Meanwhile, hosts Malawi finished last after losing 2-1 to Zambia’s Chipolopolo in the third place play offs.

Coach Patrick Mabedi made several changes to his squad that started against Kenya.

Goalkeeper Innocent Nyasulu, defender Lawrence Chaziya, winger Lanjesi Nkhoma, midfielder Patrick Mwaungulu and striker Lloyd Njaliwa getting the nod in place of Brightone Munthali, Joseph Balakasi, Robert Saizi, Chawanangwa Kaonga and Chifundo Mphasi.

The Flames once again conceded twice within five minutes just like in the semi-final against Kenya.

Clatous Chama set piece was just too good for Nyasulu in the 16th minute.

The Chipolopolo Boys doubled the lead this time through Leicester City’s Patson Daka.

Malawi pulled one back through Lawrence Chaziya’s set piece but failed to level the scores as Zambia claimed bronze.

The third place play offs loss meant Malawi lost both its matches following a 4-0 defeat to Kenya in the semi-final.

But in a post-match press conference, Mabedi said he was happy with the team’s performance.

He said: “Today, I was very, very happy with the performance, especially in the second half.

“We were able to build attacks into the last third, but finishing was the problem. It is work in progress and we’ll get over it.”

On the team’s overall performance during the tournament, Mabedi said there were plenty of positive.

He said: “It was a good tournament in terms of trying some new players. We also wanted to win, unfortunately we couldn’t, but as a technical panel, we are very happy with what we have seen.”

Chipolopolo coach Avram Grant also said they had gained a lot from the tournament ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in June.

“The tournament helped us a lot as we have crucial matches in the World Cup qualifiers. We met good team as Malawi and Zimbabwe gave us good game,” said Grant.


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