Sofapaka cut Posta’s lead, Sharks pile misery on Thika
Sofapaka continued their brilliant away form with a 1-0 victory over domestic giants AFC Leopards to slash Posta Rangers’ lead at the summit of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) as Kariobangi Sharks condemned Thika United to a third straight defeat on Wednesday.
Former Leopards player Charles Okwemba came back to haunt his former employers with the decisive goal in the 48th minute following a goalless first half at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Rangers had moved four clear at the top on 17 points with a fourth consecutive 1-0 win but the Batoto ba Mungu are now three points adrift, leapfrogging Leopards and Gor Mahia FC who were 2-1 winners over Bandari FC at the Mbaraki Stadium, Mombasa.
The result between Sharks and Thika, played earlier at the same venue, left the visitor’s Head Coach James Nandwa feeling frustrated as he admitted his charges were ‘nervous’.
“I have a good team but when you lose again and again you lose that concentration and I think above all it’s good when you’re playing well and creating chances. The main problem is we were losing all balls and not attempting to go forward more often.
“We acted as if we haven’t been training together and that’s a big challenge even to me. For me as a Coach it’s back to work because we play again on Sunday,” Nandwa told Citizen Digital.
Striker Rodgers Omondi was the hero for the Sharks, scoring in the 64th minute to give his side their third win of the season which saw them climb up to eighth on the log.
“Sharks took us by surprise because they’re a new team and we’re not used to playing against an so everything we tried seemed not to come off for us,” Nandwa added.
His counterpart, William Muluya whose side dominated the proceedings right from the first whistle was unfazed by the numerous unconverted chances but instead acknowledged they are slowly picking up momentum after a rather shaky start to their campaign.
“I’m impressed with the progress, like I said after we won the first match we can only get better.
“We started the season slowly but we are gaining momentum and you can see it,” Muluya said post-match.
Sofapaka’s Sam Ssimbwa who is slowly overseeing a change of fortunes at the club that only magically survived relegation called for consistency in the upcoming assignments.
“I’m happy with the players and I can see our work is bearing fruits. We are doing well so far, but we can only build up on this to win more.
“We now have money and the players are motivated, there should be more reason to get better,” the Ugandan underscored.
On his part, Leopards Head Coach Stewart Hall attributed the loss to a low output by his players, and put some blame on poor officiating.
“We didn’t do our best today, they (players) can do better than that. The referee was also not fair in some of his decisions but first I look at my players before I go to referees work,” Hall offered.
Sofapaka were the better side in the initial stages with Ingwe conceding three corners in the opening quarter-hour and both Michael Odhiambo and Peter Oduor testing custodian Ian Otieno.
Leopards’ Gilbert Fiamenyo and Andrew Tololwa had their share of chances on the opposite end but the visitors provided the answers on both occasions.
The hosts shifted gears as the game grew with keeper Matthias Kigonya denying a pair of stinging free-kicks from Robinson Kamura.
Last-ditch defending from Mohammed Kilume denied Fiamenyo the opener following a neat pass from Bernard Mang’oli down the right flank.
Sofapaka needed only three minutes after the restart to find the breakthrough, when Oduor’s cross was turned in former Ingwe midfielder Okwemba.
Hall reacted by withdrawing Marcus Abwao and Tololwa for Marcelus Ingotsi and Samuel Ndung’u respectively, but Sofapaka continued to dominate the procession.
Ssimbwa responded bringing on Ezekiel Okare for Paul Odhiambo with the substitute making his presence felt almost instantly when he saw a fierce drive fly just wide.
Leopards’ closest attempt came in the 81st when Allan Kateregga found Fiamenyo unmarked in the box with the Ghanaian’s shot leaving custodian Kigoya calling for medical attention.
He had punched it back to the Ghanaian striker’s path, but managed to hold keep hold on to his rebound.
Leopards became more dangerous in the dying minutes, forcing Sofapaka deep into their own third but the Batoto ba Mungu saw it out.
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