Sofapaka sink Ushuru to throw relegation fight wide open
Sofapaka finally climbed off the foot of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) table as their attempted great escape from the drop gathered momentum on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Ushuru FC to drag the latter to the relegation mire.
The 2009 champions Houdini act was inspired by two late quick fire goals in the dying embers of a contest that was petering out for a drub stalemate as Sofapaka moved ahead of Nairobi City Stars (13) on 15 points at the foot of the table.
Crucially, Ken Kenyatta’s struggling tax collectors who looked safe two weeks ago after establishing a 10-point breathing space, will curiously look over the shoulders since they are now only seven above the drop zone with eight rounds to go.
Elsewhere, Muhoroni Youth are back to fifth after a morale boosting 1-0 victory over Thika United to halt the milkmen’s recent flight from the bottom places to leave them only a point above Ushuru as the last-ditch battle to remain in the KPL was sparked to life.
City Stars have their chance to respond on Sunday when they host flailing Mathare United who are all but out of the title race for their game in hand against their relegation rivals.
At Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium, Charles Melubo gave returning Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma’s charges the lead in the 86th minute after breaching the often obdurate Ushuru defence with Kenyatta counting down to the draw that would have kept them 10 clear of the bottom two.
And before they could fashion a response, Brian Magonya heading in a cross from former veteran Gor Mahia midfielder, Moses ‘Dube’ Odhiambo, who turned back the clock to deliver a peach of a delivery that was begging to be deposited in the net.
In Muhoroni, the hosts, missing the services of league joint top scorer Wycliffe Ochomo who was serving a red-card ban knocked the wheels off Thika’s recent rich form when his Congolese striking partner, Lwamba Bebeto converted a first half penalty to help his team shoot to fifth on the log on 32 points.
The milkmen who recently have collected points from top teams like Mathare and leaders Tusker FC are now back into the relegation equation in 13th.
Sunday’s action will also witness Kakamega Homeboyz welcome AFC Leopards seeking a first victory of the season in a fixture christened Cataluhya Derby with local bragging rights in the football-crazed western region also at stake.
Champions Gor are away to first leg stars Posta Rangers under the stewardship of their former coach, their former 1995 title-winning captain, Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno who relishes nothing more than getting one over the team he left in acrimony having brought them close to glory in 2010.
The mailmen have slipped to tenth in the log but will nonetheless provide a stern test for the champions who are going through a dry spell in front of goal.
Earlier, leaders Tusker were held to a 1-1 stalemate by Western Stima in Machakos.
SATURDAY’S KPL RESULTS
Muhoroni Youth FC 1 – 0 Thika United
Tusker FC 1 – 1 Western Stima
Ushuru FC 0 – 2 Sofapaka