Coach Nsibe rues lack of fitness as Port Luis deny Tusker

Coach Nsibe rues lack of fitness as Port Luis deny Tusker

Tusker FC head coach George ‘Best’ Nsibe blamed lack of match-fitness as the Kenyan champions bottled the chance to press their home advantage over Mauritian giants AS Port Luis who pinched a 1-1 draw  in their CAF Champions League preliminary round first leg tie in Nairobi on Saturday.

Defender Shafik Batambuze’s stunning first half strike failed to inspire domestic double winners Tusker to a winning return to continental football as Port Louis fought back to come away with a crucial away goal ahead of their return leg clash in a fortnight.

“We didn’t take our chances and the boys didn’t perform to my expectations. They lacked match fitness because we haven’t had enough international friendlies but we can still make it. When we go to Mauritius we’re going to attack them and look to score as early as possible,” the disappointed Ugandan who had his first competitive run out since being the Brewers boss rued post match.

Batambuze opened the scoring in the 28th minute, curling a sweet strike into the back of the net from a corner kick for the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions.

The visitors’ response came later on in the second half when Ephrem Guikan levelled matters to give the six-time Mauritian Premier League champions the result they would have desired on the away leg.

The home side started brightest with wingers Danson Kago and Noah Wafula creating the game’s first two chances.

The opposition struggled to contain Kago as his searing pace once again unlocked their defence at the quarter mark.

There was no one at the end of his delivery from the left wing with defender Bruno Ravina claiming his second interception of the afternoon.

Port Louis hardly created any opportunities at the other end as a compact defence marshalled by skipper James Situma enjoyed a solid opening half hour.

In a match characterized by rugged midfield battles, it was Batambuze – the Ugandan whose low drive against AFC leopards sealed the KPL crown in the penultimate game of the season – that provided the most beautiful moment of the contest.

 

He picked the ball from a corner and unleashed a powerful left foot that flew right in, fizzling past the crowded goal and past keeper Luther Rose.

Port Louis showed more desire coming from the break, testing Okello twice in ten minutes.

Ange Vincent wasted a free header as his tame effort fell kindly to Okello.

Sloppy play from the hosts saw Andrisoa Randianandrasana collect the ball from just outside his own half and setting off on a long mazy run towards goal.

The winger nonchalantly wheeled past three of his markers before sending a low drive from the edge of the penalty area that Okello parried back and Guikan was on hand to pounce and send the rebound home into an empty net for the equalise.

From that point on, the game turned into a patchy with reckless tackles flying across both ends of the pitch as Tusker tried to find a winner but were thwarted by a combination of disciplined defending and intelligent time wasting tactics by Port Luis.

The visitors should have taken the lead from a counter attack but Randianandrasana’s attempt was blocked by Situma.

Nsimbe’s men enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but barely looked like finding the winner with their long balls pinged right back to the center of the pack by Port Louis’ backline of six-footers.

Kenyan international striker Allan Wanga struggled to find form in the woeful afternoon for the domestic champions with Michael Khamati and Hashim Sempala both coming late on to little effect.