Ulinzi stars crowned KPL Champions

Nov 14, 2010

Ulinzi Stars went into the final round of the Kenyan Premier League matches knowing a victory would secure them the title ahead of Gor Mahia.

At the end of 90 minutes, Ulinzi were the deservedly 2010 KPL winners, even as Gor relied on an Ulinzi lapse.

In the end, the 0-0 draw against Nairobi City Stars proved academic as the soldiers thumped a visiting Karuturi Sports 2-0 at Afraha Stadium to claim the Premiership crown in style.

Ulinzi Stars drew the first blood in the 5th minute through the man of the match Geoffrey Kokoyo from a corner kick taken by Chester Okoyo to lead by the solitary goal at half time.

In the second half, Ulinzi piled up pressure and it did come as a surprise when they added the second goal in the 62nd minute through a powerful header by Kokoyo past Karuturi industrious Karuturi custodian Mike Wanyika.

Wanyika was the man of the match on the losers’ part and had it not been his efforts between the posts, the soldiers could have won the match with a big margin.

Ulinzi coach Benjamin Nyangweso said he was happy to have won the title as the head coach something that eluded him when he was a player.

Nyangweso hanged his boots as a player in 2002, long before Ulinzi won their first title in 2003 and did the same the following two consecutive years in 2004 and 2005.

He said he was preparing the team for Military Championships in Mombasa next week before he can focus on their participation in the Africa Champions League next year.

“For now, am preparing the team for Military Championships in Mombasa next week before we can  embark on our preparations for the Africa Champions League,” said Nyangweso in a post match interview..

Karururi failed to make any meaningful strike at the Ulinzi goalmouth in the entire first half.

This gave Ulinzi goalkeeper Francis Ochieng easy time and roved the field when taking fouls.

Everything was in place for the Gor match, complete with a facsimile trophy, ‘just in case’ Ulinzi slipped in Nakuru and K’Ogalo triumphed against City Stars.

Songs and dances were in plenty, as Gor followers hoped for some miracle, although deep down they knew that any win for Ulinzi was the inescapable.

One ear was at City, while the other at Afraha, with mobile phones coming in handy with updates.

So when news trickled in that Ulinzi were leading 2-0 deep into the second half, the singing subsided, the sounds of vuvuzelas died down and the bright faces, slowly transformed as gloom checked in. The trophy has just evaded them.

“It was one of those bad days, the boys didn’t click, but am happy we finished second,” noted Gor Mahia’s head coach Zedekiah Otieno.

“I congratulate them (Ulinzi) for the win though. It was a very competitive league.”

Playing in his last match in the KPL before he leaves for Belgium, George Odhiambo broke forward from deep and had a thumping 30-metre effort swatted away by Francis Thairu.

And there were also some neat touches from Collins Okoth, who has been Gor’s kingpin in the midfield.

Kevin Omondi’s wild strike into the crowd was as close as the ‘visitors’ came in the early stages, content to stand firm against the onslaught and wait for some semblance of control as Odhiambo struggled to win his weekly battle with the offside flag.

Levy Muaka, whose harassment of the Gor defense was crucial during their first leg meet, also had a curling free kick held by Jerim Onyango as the hosts sensed their momentum was gathering. 

The victory for Ulinzi was far than what was required of them to take the title as second-placed Gor Mahia faltered at a 0-0 draw with Nairobi City Stars.

To win the title, Gor Mahia needed victory and at least Ulinzi to be held to a draw in Nakuru. In the end it was a supremely confident romp for Ulinzi, last champions in 2005.

Collated League results

Ulinzi Stars         2          Karuturi Sports 0 -Afraha

Nairobi City Stars0          Gor Mahia 0 -City

Tusker                 1          KCB             0 - Ruaraka

Mathare United 1           Red Berets 2 - Hope Centre

Western Stima 1            AFC Leopards  1- Bukhungu

Thika United      0            Sofapaka 0 - Thika

SonySugar         0            Posta Rangers  0-Awendo

Chemelil Sugar 0            Mahakama 0-Chemelil

 

 Abel Otieno & Isaac Mutua

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