MUMBAI, India- Hosts India beat Kenya 2-0 to lift the 2018 Hero Intercontinental Cup at Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday night.
All the goals were scored in the first half by captain Sunil Chhetri to give his country the victory.
Chhetri, who was playing his 100th international match, scored in the eighth and 29th minutes to seal for India the deal.
Kenya went on assault in the opening minute but the efforts were thwarted by custodian Gurpreet Sandhu who was arguably the man of the match.
India made their intention known in the fifth minute when Jeje Lalpekhlua’s quick burst was ruled offside by the center referee.
Chhetri then gave India a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute when he drilled in a free kick from outside the box.
Kenya almost leveled the score from the several corner kicks that resulted afterwards but again hawk-eyed Sandhu denied them the chance.
Harambee Stars head coach, Sébastien Migné, instructed his charges to change tact in the 27th minute by spreading the balls to the flanks but again the option did not bore fruit.
Chhetri capitalized on the laxity of Kenya’s defence to net his second goal in the 29th minute and this locked Harambee Stars fate in the highly charged match.
Kenya huffed and puffed in the second half but they ran out of scoring luck including Ovella Ochieng’s spot kick from outside the box that went wide.
Migné had named a strong starting lineup for the final, drafting in Kenneth Muguna in place of AFC Leopards skipper, Duncan Otieno.
Otieno was taken ill ahead of the crunch tie and had to take rest on doctor’s prescription.
Vihiga United centre-back Bernard Ochieng also replaced Clifton Miheso in the starting 11.
On their way to the four nation cup final, Harambee Stars overcame Chinese Taipei 4-0 to book a date with India on Friday.
Kenya finished second with six points, similar to hosts India who, however, had a superior goal difference.
The final was the second meeting between the two at the tourney, with the hosts having won the first encounter 3-0, courtesy of a brace by Chhetri and a goal by Lalpekhlua.
The final was Migne’s sixth match since he was unveiled by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) as Harambee Stars two months ago.
The tournament also aimed at gearing up Harambee Stars for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Ghana and Ethiopia in September.
Harambee Stars Starting XI
Patrick Matasi (GK), Mike Kibwage, Bernard Ochieng, Musa Mohamed, Jockins Atudo, Dennis Odhiambo, Patilah Omotto, Kenneth Muguna, Eric Ouma, Ovella Ochieng, Pistone Mutamba
Timothy Odhiambo (GK), Bolton Omwenga, Johnstone Omurwa, Chrispin Oduor, Vincent Wasambo, Clifton Miheso, Timothy Otieno, Joh Mark Makwatta