Matano off to a flier at AFC Leopards as Ulinzi Stars bounce to summit

By alex wafula
Jul 16, 2017
  • Omar Mbongi celebrates scoring Ulinzi's winner against Nakumatt. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

  • Mathare United's Chris Onyango falls as he tries to pass te ball under pressure from Justine Omary. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

Robert Matano’s tenure as the AFC Leopards coach started off on a positive note as he led the side to a 1-0 win over Bandari in Mombasa.

Marcelus Ingotsi hit the back of the net in the 91st minute as Ingwe moved a spot up to 11th on the Kenyan Premier League table.

The win is Ingwe’s first in the KPL since their 2-1 away victory to Thika United in late April. They had not won in their last nine league matches.

Matano who only took charge of the team this Monday was impressed with the team’s performance. He attributed this to a change in attitude among the players and a more hard working approach.

“It was a good result out of a tough match. But the work has just begun. Hopefully we can maintain the tempo,” Matano said after the match.

In Nairobi, Ulinzi Stars ended a five-match winless streak to beat Nakumatt 2-1 and move to the top of the standings albeit on goal difference.

The soldiers who were eliminated last week from the GOtv Shield made a perfect response, Omar Mbongi heading home a late winner.

Samuel Onyango had opened the scoring for Ulinzi in the 48th minute only for Joshua Oyoo to step off the bench and cancel out the result.

But, Mbongi who was starting in only his second match since returning from a three-month absence ensured all points were won by the military side.

The first half was a pale affair in with none of the two sides creating clear cut chances. Stephen Waruru, the KPL top scorer attempted with an effort from distance, but it was way over the bar.

Wide shot

Samwel Onyango also had a shot from the right go wide after dispossessing Nicholas Mejja and racing into the box.

Nakumatt didn’t create much, save for a Robert Omunuk set-piece which sailed wide.

In the second half, the tempo rose and Ulinzi only needed three minutes to score the opener. The goal was aided by a howler from keeper Sammy Okinda.

From a seemingly harmless Daniel Waweru cross, the keeper failed to get a firm grip and Onyango pounced to poke the ball home.

But the Premier League new boys who have won all their matches at Ruaraka pressed for an equalizer. They forced Ulinzi to play on the back foot, using the speed of Ronald Musana on the left and Boniface Akenga on the right.

Akenga had a successful take over Mbongi on the left, but as he prepared to pull the trigger inside the box, Mohammed Hassan produced a well timed blocking tackle.

Akenga was then brought off for Oyoo who only needed two minutes to announce his arrival.

The former SoNy Sugar and Tusker FC winger broke the offside trap to latch onto a long ball from midfield, beating keeper Jacktone Odhiambo one on one and slotting home.

The goal gave Nakumatt increased confidence and they gunned for a winner. Under pressure, Geoffrey Kokoyo almost gifted Nakumatt with a goal when he lost possession cheaply, but Kepha Aswani’s resultant effort went straight to Odhiambo in goal.

But Ulinzi responded in kind, also putting in more attacking runs. Enosh Ochieng came in for Onyango and the change meant Ulinzi now played with two centre forwards, a clear intent of going for goal.

They finally got the winner in the 88th minute when Mbongi headed home a Waweru corner. Ulinzi got the set piece after Waruru’s brilliant effort from a freekick was equally well saved by Nakumatt keeper Okinda.

Mathare held to a 0-0 draw  

In the late kick off at Ruaraka, Mathare were held to a 0-0 draw by SoNy Sugar. Mathare remained bottom of the log with 12 points, one behind 17th-placed Thika United who drew with Sofapaka.

Mathare finished the match with 10 men after keeper Levis Opiyo was red-carded for an outside the box tackle on SoNy’s Yema Mwana.

Wycliffe Odhiambo came into goal for the final five minutes, but he didn’t have much to do as SoNy appeared comfortable with a point.

Francis Kimanzi, the Mathare United coach admitted pressure is building up on his side as the season progresses, but remains confident they will bounce back and avoid the chop.

“When you don’t win so many matches, there is an element of fear that creeps in building pressure and it makes the players anxious and want to do things in a hurry. We know the situation but I think we are playing well each day. We only need to polish on the final third,” he told Sports News Arena.

It wasn’t a game of many chances. Sony’s Laban Gambareko had perhaps the best chance of the game five minutes in when a miscommunication between defender George Owino and keeper Opiyo gifted him the ball.

But, he took too much time and his shot was blocked by a recovering Owino.

In the eighth minute, Daniel Mwaura had a good chance for Mathare after cutting in from the right, but his shot was weak and Kevin Omondi had an easy pick in the SoNy goal.

KPL Weekend fixtures and results

Friday: Posta Rangers 2 Nzoia Sugar 1, Western Stima 1 Tusker FC 0.

Saturday: Bandari 0 AFC Leopards 1, Nakumatt 1 Ulinzi Stars 2, Mathare United 0 SoNy Sugar 0, Thika United 0 Sofapaka.

Sunday: Zoo Kericho v Chemelil Sugar (Kericho Stadium 3 p.m.).