Tusker FC cage Leopards to sip KPL title success

Tusker FC’s Shaffique Batambuze (right) vies for the ball against Paul Kiongera of AFC ...
Tusker FC’s Shaffique Batambuze (right) vies for the ball against Paul Kiongera of AFC Leopards during their Kenyan Premier League clash at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on November 6, 2015. Batambuze scored the winner in a 1-0 victory to hand his team the 2016 title. PHOTO/www.sportpicha.com

Tusker FC are the 2016 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions after beating fading giants AFC Leopards 1-0 at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Sunday to clinch the domestic double after earlier winning the GOtv Shield.

Ugandan Shaffique Batambuze etched his name in the Brewers folklore when his 64th minute finish from a Osbourne Monday corner uncorked the champagne that has been on ice in Ruaraka with Tusker celebrating an 11th domestic league title.

Batambuze gave compatriot and head coach Paul Nkata- who joined the new champions from Muhoroni Youth before the start of the season- the fitting reward.

Tusker moved to 58 points, four above dethroned titleholders Gor Mahia with a game to go after K’Ogalo kept the race alive when they beat Nkata’s former team 2-0 on Saturday.

“I came to this game knowing that we have to win nothing else because in case of a draw you never know anything can happen in the last game, intimidation. When you pledge something you have to fulfill it and I have done my job,” Nkata who promised to win trophies for the Brewers said.

“I cannot say anything about the coming season, for now it all we have to do is celebrate,” the Ugandan tactacian who was carried aloft by his jubilant players after the final whistle of the tense encounter said.

“I have done it for my team, I feel good and I appreaciate Tusker since I have done this before. I appreciate everyone, we have done it,” the ecstatic match winner Batambuze offered.

The reign of Stewart Hall at Ingwe may have started in defeat but the Briton was delighted with his team’s display coming in a wretched week where the club suspended four senior players.

“The players really worked hard to carry out the plan. I didn’t think they would break us down. I said at half time the biggest danger was corners since they are a big team. We knew set pieces were our biggest danger and the goal came from a corner, perhaps we could have done better,” Hall offered.

He then declared there would be another mass clearout at the Den at the end of the current season as he plots for a tilt at the title next year.

“League tables don’t lie, they are the league champions and we are 13th, of course there has to be a radical overhaul. I didn’t come here to mess around, I came here to win things, I have never finished 13th with any team I have coached,” the former Sofapaka FC and Tanzania giants Azam FC told reporters.

-Title procession-

With victory, Tusker avoided a powder keg final day title decider against Gor next weekend with the huge game now turning to be a title procession for the Brewers.

Despite losing key players, Leopards made the new champions work for their coronation with Paul Mungai Kiongera and Alfred Wekesa missing the target by inches inside the opening quarter of an hour.

Veteran forward, Allan Wanga then spurned the opportunity to put the Brewers ahead in the 29th from point blank range when the ball ricocheted to him after confusion in the Ingwe box.

After the break, Hall who only had 18 players to select his side withdrew Wekesa and the injured Jackson Saleh for Yusuf Suf and Cresten Mwanzo, while Nkata brought on Clifford Alwanga for Anthony Ndolo.

In the 59th Batambuze fired Leopards a warning when he smacked the cross bar with Otieno recovering to deny Wanga on the rebound.

There was no denying the Ugandan’s place in history five minutes later when he claimed the title winner.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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