Ulinzi left needing ‘Barca Miracle’ after Smouha rout

Ulinzi Stars FC coach Benjamin Nyangweso reacts after their SportPesa Premier League match against AFC ...
Ulinzi Stars FC coach Benjamin Nyangweso reacts after their SportPesa Premier League match against AFC Leopards SC at the Afraha stadium in Nakuru on October 14, 2016. The match ended 2-2. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Ulinzi Stars’ hopes of progressing beyond the CAF Confederations Cup first round were left in tatters as they endured a 4-0 pummeling in the hands Egypt’s Smouha SC on Friday.

Ulinzi Stars will need a comeback of FC Barcelona proportions to remain in the 2017 CAF Confederations Cup after a 4-0 humiliation in their first leg tie at the hands of Smouha in Alexandria.

Benjamin Nyangweso’s soldiers were frog matched to the heavy surrender in Egypt after scrapping through to the first round of the second tier continental showpiece for the first time in their decorated history.

Missing their top scorer John Mark Makwatta who is Slovakia bound, the four-time Kenyan champions simply did not have the artillery to counter the Smouha siege at the second largest Egyptian city.

It left them with the unenviable task of scoring at least four unanswered goals to force the tie to penalties in the return leg next week in Nairobi or 5-0 to win it outright.

Nyangweso needs to get on the phone pronto with Barca head coach Luis Enrique who masterminded the greatest comeback in UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last 16 tie to French champions PSG, Barca went through to the quarters 6-5 on aggregate following a stirring, scarcely believable 6-1 win at Camp Nou that is still reverberating worldwide to date.

Anything short of the ‘Miracle of Catalunya’ will mean Kenya will once again, have no representative in the second round of African club football.

The last time a Kenyan side stirred hope was in 2011 when Sofapaka, who are battling to retain their Kenyan Premier League status, sailed to the third round of the Confed Cup.

The hosts struck two goals in each half with Ahmed Raoof, Islam Mohareb, Mahmoud Abdelaziz and Islam Mohareb finding the back of the net to condemn the 2010 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions to humiliating defeat.

Forced to do without his talismanic forward Makwatta, Nyangweso made two changes to the squad that faced Libya’s Al Hilal Benghazi in the preliminary round with Baron Oketch recalled from the bench Oscar Wamalwa replaced Evans Amwoka in the starting line-up.

Smouha who are placed fifth on the Egytian Premier League standings dominated from start to finish, overrunning their opponents in a first half that saw Nyangweso’s men record only one shot on target.

Rookie John Kago was the only lively player from a disjointed Ulinzi first half display as the visitors took a 2-0 deficit to the break.

Playing in a near empty stadium under a soggy pitch, the Kenyans toiled under pressure with only keeper James Saruni’s heroics in close keeping the scoreline less embarrassing.

The keeper expertly kept out efforts from Islam Mohareb and Ahmed Rauf in the second half before Abdelaziz scored the third with 22 minutes left.

Mohareb then struck the pick of the night, lacing a delightful volley that gave Saruni little chance into the top corner.

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Story By John Kyanda
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