New boys Nzoia shock champions Tusker as KPL starts

By alex wafula
Mar 12, 2021
  • Nzoia Suga players celebrate one of their five goals against defending KPL champions Tusker FC. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

  • Tusker's Hashim Ssempala takes the ball away from Nzoia United's Lawrence Juma. (Photi by Alex Wafula)

Defending champions Tusker FC were thrown into shock after finding themselves on the wrong end of a 5-2 result against newly promoted side Nzoia Sugar at the Afraha Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Nzoia, coached by former Kenyan international Bernard Mwalala came back after conceding an early goal to shock the holders who have struggled to get results in 2017.

It was a dream start for Nzoia who were playing in the Premier League for the first time since 2004.

Defender Brian Otieno scored a second half brace with goals apiece by Elvis Rupia, Edwin Wafula and Boniface Omondi finishing the damage.

“I am shocked with the result. I expected us to win but not with this margin. It is a huge victory for us because it is the first match and also against the defending champions. It gives us a lot of confidence going forward,” Bernard Mwalala, the Nzoia United coach said after the game.

The shocker to Tusker comes just a week after losing the Super Cup to Gor Mahia, a result that added on the injury of their Champions League exit at the hands of Mauritian side AS Port Louis.

George Nsimbe, Tusker’s new man at the top has admitted that pressure is building on his side.

“As defending champions, these are not the results desired. It is tough for us and pressure definitely has to kick in. We lost today because we didn’t play well. We underrated Nzoia and they punished us,” a hugely disappointed Nsimbe told Sports News Arena after the match.

The brewers started the match well, Noah Wafula beating Nzoia keeper Benson Mangala with a low finish from a counter attack in the ninth minute. They had dodged a bullet in the fifth minute when Masita Masuta missed a sitter.

Persistence paid off

But the Premier League newbies were not cowed despite losing early and used their speed to knock on Tusker’s door. Their persistence paid off in the 22nd minute when Elvis Rupia sneaked in at the back post to head in from a Lawrence Juma freekick.

After the restart, Tusker almost grabbed the lead back but Cersidy Okeyo’s shot from the edge of the area went inches over.

Nzoia thought they should have had two penalties, first Lloyd Wahome appeared to have handled inside the box while in the second instant, Odhiambo was fouled by Hashim Ssempala but on both instances, the ref waved play on.

But the sugarmen got right back into the lead in the 41st minute, Edwin Wafula scoring from the penalty spot after Masuta was brought down by Wahome.

The defending champions drew level two minutes after the break, Batambuze curling a superb freekick over the wall and past Mangala in the Nzoia goal.

But, when they thought they were headed for a win, Otieno struck twice from Omondi corners. He first scrambled the ball into the net from a corner on the right before he thumped in a header from another Omondi corner from the left.

Nsimbe made his first changes

After conceding the two, Nsimbe made his first changes, pulling out Samuel Olwande who had started on the left side of defense for midfielder Sidney Ochieng.

The change meant Batambuze dropped down to left back. He later was forced to pull out Ssempala for striker Mike Khamati with the Ugandan midfielder living dangerously after picking up a yellow card and continuing to throw tackles all over the pitch.

Instead of hunting for the winner, Tusker went 5-2 down when Omondi’s curling corner found Duncan Ochieng off guard, forcing him to step into the line and referee Moses Osano spotted and called for a goal.

Clifford Alwanga had a chance to pull one back for Tusker with three minutes left, but he saw his penalty saved.

KPL Weekend fixtures and results

Saturday: Tusker FC 2 Nzoia United 5 (Afraha Stadium), Bandari FC 1 Nakumatt 0 (Mbaraki Complex).

Sunday: Mathare United v Thika United (2 p.m), Kariobangi Sharks v Gor Mahia (4:15 p.m Thika Stadium), Sony Sugar v Chemelil Sugar (3 p.m - Awendo Stadium), Zoo Kericho v Posta Rangers (2 p.m. -Afraha Stadium).