Ulinzi march on as Thika upset Gor in KPL


Suleiman Ngotho (C), protests to the referee after a scuffle against Wellington Ochieng (second right) ...
Suleiman Ngotho (C), protests to the referee after a scuffle against Wellington Ochieng (second right) during their Sportpesa Kenya Premier League match at the Nyayo National stadium on May 21, 2017. The match ended 1-1. Photo/ Oliver Ananda/www/sportpicha.com

Four-time Kenyan Premier League (KPL) winners Ulinzi Stars and Thika United delivered upset results of the weekend as the top-flight entered its 12th round.

Ulinzi brought Posta Rangers back to earth when they won 1-0 to bring to an end Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo’s unbeaten run this season. The Rangers were the only side yet to taste defeat with that streak lasting an impressive 11 games.

At the Nyayo National Stadium, a top versus bottom clash ended in a stalemate as Thika held Gor Mahia to a 1-1 draw. The result could have been worse with the record title-holders racing back from behind to rescue a point late on.

Drama emanated from the Muhoroni Stadium as Football Kenya Federation (FKF) moved to ban the facility from hosting KPL matches following reported hooliganism.

According to the federation, stewards colluded with fans to physically assault rival fans from Nzoia Sugar. The situation piles more woes for a club that was on the brink of relegation for failing to comply with CAF licensing requirements.

Elsewhere, holders Tusker FC continued their impressive run and broke into top three, while Mathare United and Western Stima’s downward trajectory rolled on, condemning the two to rock bottom.

-Rangers shot down-

Stephen Waruru scored the all-important goal taking his tally to seven this season, Ulinzi Stars becoming the first team to earn maximum points from Rangers.

“I knew at a particular point this run would come to an end but all is not lost because the results will help us reorganize ourselves ahead of our next match against Gor.

“We played pretty well and should have gotten something out of the match but luck wa not on our side,” Omolo told journalists after the match.

He missed his influential captain Jockins Atudo, who has been pivotal in the team’s solid defense so far.

His opposite number Benjamin Nyangweso saw Ulinzi climb to second, just two points shy of leaders Gor. He later revealed the win had come from careful instructions he gave his charges before the clash.

“I told my boys they must end Rangers’ unbeaten run and they must utilize even half a chance and I am happy they took my advice seriously and scored the winning goal,” said the soft spoken tactician.

“The most important thing is the three points, not beating Rangers. I however believe the team is more motivated beating a team others have found difficult to,” Nyangweso said.

Gor narrowly escaped Thika’s scare, scoring late in the second half to share spoils in an ill-tempered match. The first quarter hour could have yielded the 15-time champions at least three goals, but wasted chances came back to haunt them when Shami Kibwana struck the opener.

It was a repeated assault with the forward having found the back of the net last season when he played as a wingback.

Ernest Wendo stood tall to rectify every mistake an erratic Gor midfield committed, with Rwandese international Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza and Francis Kahata easily losing the midfield battle. In the absence of influential midfielder Kenneth Muguna nothing they patched up seemed to come off.

While coach Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira appeared justified to lament about referee’s decision to end the match ‘before time’, he had more questions about his team’s ability to cope with opponents playing fast football with little passes from end to end.

-Muhoroni woes-

At Muhoroni Stadium, Nzoia Sugar FC beat hosts Muhoroni 3-0 but with unruly fans and stewards reportedly ‘revenging’ for their players on the terraces.

“Over the years there have been various reports of cases of violence occurring during matches played at the Muhoroni Stadium. The KPL through its judicial body the IDCC is supposed to have ensured these cases are investigated and action taken on those found guilty,” a letter from FKF read in part.

Mohuroni woes appear to have resurfaced again, after their eventful pre–season when FKF relegated them to the National Super League (NSL) only for Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) to overturn the decision.

Club chairman Moses Adagala still believes the move to ban their ground is ill motivated.

Tusker affirmed their intention to defend their 11th national title with an easy win over Mathare United. Ugandan tactician George ‘Best’ Nsimbe had been earmarked for an early chop but has proved it was a matter of time before he got the champions ticking.

“I’m happy with confidence the players are showing. It is the attitude of moving forward and only forward, knowing they are champions. It is early to rule out anything for the teams in the league and that’s why every match is important,” Nsimbe offered.

At the Mumias Sports Complex, Kakamega Homeboyz piled more misery on AFC Leopards. Lamine Diallo returned to haunt his former employers with the only goal of the day.

A run of six matches without a win for the Leopards has thrown them down to 11th on the log, sparking speculations over the future of English coach Stewart Hall barely months into his tenure.

“We just need to win one match and we will be good to go. When you register such results over a time you need to win and pick up from there,” deputy coach Dennis Kitambi told Citizen Digital.

A barren draw was registered in Narok County Stadium during its first ever KPL match on Saturday with hosts Sofapaka holding in-form Kariobangi Sharks who sit fifth on the table, with the Batoto ba Mungu one place below them.

Nakumatt FC’s resurgence continued with 2-1 win over Chemelil Sugar FC at the Ruaraka Stadium where former Leopards players Kepha Aswani and Eugene Ambulwa netted for the winners.

In total, Leopards’ fans saw three players who were at the den last season scoring for other clubs.

Western Stima’s poor form this season continued as Sony Sugar FC beat them 2-0 in Awendo with Marwa Chamberi and Amos Asembeka (penalty) scoring the goals.

Zoo FC won for the first time at the Kericho Green Stadium with Bernard Odhiambo grabbing a hatrick for the homeside. Bandari got their goals through Enock Agwanda and Shaban Kenga.

With the win, Zoo climbed to 14th with 12 points while Bandari lie seventh on 17. A total of 19 goals were scored, two draws and seven wins registered.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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