Mugalia stars as Sofapaka advance

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NAIROBI, Kenya, April 13- A dramatic last ten minutes settled Wednesday’s Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Top 8 quarterfinal encounter 2-1 in favour of Sofapaka in their encounter against Sony Sugar with international Bob Mugalia covering himself in glory.

The Congolese born Harambee Stars attacking winner struck in the 80th and 88th minutes of what was until the dying moments a lethargic match.

Marwa Chabeli scored what turned out to be Sony’s consolation deep in stoppage time to cap the frenetic conclusion to the match.

Sofapaka who lost their weekend KPL league encounter to Rangers, advance to face Western Stima in the semis as Sony’s woes deepened with their third defeat in as many matches.

“It was very difficult to play against a team with ten men behind the ball and the goal keeper. At some point, I was getting frustrated but we knew we had to keep knocking the ball around and keep their concentration when attacking and defending since they were waiting for the counter,” Sofapaka coach, Francis Kimanzi stated post match.

His opposite number, Francis Baraza said, “We lost concentration and they got both goals. I had told my boys to be calm and capitalise on the mistakes the opponents were making but it did not work out.”

Until the game burst to life in its closing embers, the match had threatened to end in a barren stalemate as Sofapaka pressed for the advantage with Sony content to sit and soak up the pressure.

Sofapaka sitting midfielder, Titus Mulama was the first to get a sight of goal in the 16th minute of a forgettable first half but his curled free kick from 30 metres was easily picked by Sony custodian, George Opiyo.

Opiyo was called into action barely a minute later to collect a weak shot from veteran striker, John Baraza, when the forward weaved past the Sony defence and unloaded a rising effort towards his goal.

Baraza, the liveliest player on the night, headed just wide of the right post in the 25th before Anthony Kimani’s well taken volley was deflected just over two minutes to the breather.

On the stroke of half time, Baraza buried a deep Kimani cross from the right into the net but the effort was chalked off for offside.

 

 After the break, the busy striker saw another header from a Mulama free kick tipped just past the framework by Opiyo on 54 minutes prompting Kimanzi to bring on Mugalia for the ineffectual forward John Onami immediately after.

Humphrey Mieno was tossed into the fray eight minutes later for Idrissa Rajab as Sofapaka battled to break the stubborn Sony who had not mustered any effort on goal and the changes had the desired effect.

Another neat low finish by Baraza in the 78th minute was disallowed for an infringement before the strike but two minutes later, Mugalia profited and Sofapaka finally made the breakthrough after fellow substitute Mieno weaved past four Sony defenders to lay off the ball for a chance the forward could not miss from four yards out.

Sony made a couple of changes of their own bringing in Chamberi and Hedmond Ochieng but before they could settle, Mugalia struck again two minutes to full time.

Again, Baraza did all the spade work, finding space in the crowded Sony box after cutting inside two defenders but his shot which beat Opiyo rebounded off the right post to the grateful feet of the Harambee Stars attacker who had the simple task of tapping it in.

A minute inside stoppage time, Sony’s Francis Odhiambo, who was on yellow, hacked Anthony Kimani and referee Anthony Ongwayo pulled out a straight red card.

It was still not over. Two minutes later, Ochieng delivery was converted by Chamberi and Sony almost forced the tie into penalties when the same player missed another probing ball with the goal at his mercy in the next play.

KPL champions, Ulinzi Stars who Sofapaka face next and Gor Mahia are the other Top 8 semi finalists.

Follow the author on http://twitter.com/KarolBaghEEH  

 

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