Nzoia mill KPL kings Tusker to syrup in opener
Winger Clifford Alwanga’s missed penalty in the 88th minute capped a forgettable Saturday for Tusker FC as Nzoia United made a barnstorming start to life in the top flight with a 5-2 win over the champions at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium.
Trailing only nine minutes into the match, Nzoia kept their composure to complete a magnificent comeback to leave the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) titleholders shell-shocked and – more than anything – let them to underlining their league credentials.
Brian Otieno hit a brace as former AFC Leopards defender Edwin Wafula, Rupia and Boniface Omondi each scored once to complete the drubbing while Noah Wafula and Shafik Batambuze were on target for the hosts.
Elsewhere at the Mbaraki Stadium in Mombasa former Gor Mahia striker Enoch Agwanda scored the only goal as Bandari FC sunk newbies Nakumatt FC 1-0.
Alwanga’s goal came four minutes before the break with the victory ensuring former Tusker Head Coach Paul Nkata enjoyed a winning start to life at the Coastal-based club.
Despite enjoying the better start and forcing Tusker into an early retreat, Nzoia were punished for their bravery as Wafula picked a loose ball inside the opposition third and raced towards goal.
The midfielder did well to beat two defenders before drilling a low shot past keeper Mangala Benson for the first goal of the 2017 KPL season.
It was a cruel portrayal of this Nzoia team that had sauntered into the top division and had – upto the 10th minute – matched Tusker for strength but hardly by execution as their opponents scored with only their first shot.
Despite the setback, Nzoia maintained their direct play as they pushed back Head Coach George Nsimbe’s men in search for the equalizer.
The National Super League (NSL) champions had a penalty appeal turned down at the quarter hour when Elvis Rupia was adjudged to have gone down too easily under a challenge from Hashim Sempala.
A well-worked free-kick routine saw Nzoia pull one back in the 24th minute as Rupia arrive behind Eugen Asike to nod in Lawrence Juma’s curling effort.
Rupia should have grabbed his second of the afternoon two minutes later but failed to connect Luke Namanda’s flashing cross.
Confusion in the Tusker box led to a penalty with Masita Masuta seemingly shoved to the ground by Moses Ndawaula from what looked like a 50-50 aerial ball contention.
The visitors carried their 2-1 lead into the break but were pegged back almost immediately after the restart as Batambuze scored a brilliant free-kick to restore parity.
Charged, Nzoia continued to raid their opponents and were back in front just six minutes after Ugandan Batambuze’s goal as Otino powered in a header past keeper Duncan Ochieng.
He returned at the hour mark to punish an erratic Tusker defense with a cleverly executed finish to gift his side a two-goal cushion as frustration crept through for the Brewers.
Omondi rounded the scoring in the dying minutes as his curling corner kick forced Ochieng into peddling into his net with the ball having handled the shot.
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