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Advantage K’Ogalo, Ulinzi in Top 8 semis

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NAIROBI, Kenya, August 2- Defending champions Ulinzi Stars and Gor Mahia inched closer to the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Top 8 final in contrasting fashion following the Thursday semis.

The soldiers were held to a 1-1 stalemate by battling Sony Sugar to nose in front on the away goals rule while K’Ogalo punished 10-man league champions Tusker 1-0 ahead of the return legs next week at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Sony v Ulinzi

In the first semi, Ulinzi showed their intent of retaining the crown by scoring early in the first half when George Otieno beat Sony keeper Wilson Obungu with a wonderful volley in the fourth minute.

Sony’s equalizer came in the dying embers of the match when Stephen Ocholla deflected an Enock Agwanda powerful shot into his own goal.

Ulinzi’s Geoffrey Kokoyo and Stephen Waruru marshalled the midfield but moves to the opponents’ goal for a decisive second were thwarted by the solid defence mounted by the cane cutters.

Sony kept pushing forward in search of the equalizer, with Agwanda persistently threatening the Ulinzi backline in the right flank.

They lost the chance to find the back of the net in the 60th, when striker John Kiplangat shot wide after Kokoyo headed the ball his way as he attempted to clear.

Ismael Dunga almost levelled in the 69th but was denied by Jacktone Odhiambo with a quick punch as they piled on the pressure.

With Sony growing more confident with more possession to their advantage, Ocholla sent his keeper the wrong way in the 86th minute after deflecting Agwanda’s shot past Odhiambo.

Tusker v Gor Mahia

Gor Mahia who earned their way into the semi through a walkover on Sunday against their fierce rivals AFC Leopards saw off the league title holders through a penalty in the 37th after David Ochieng was adjudged to have handled the ball in the goal area.

Defender Ivan Anguyo slotted the ball from the spot putting the ball into the far left corner past keeper Samuel Odhiambo to give K’Ogalo the vital away goal.

The Sammy Omollo’s lads who recently returned from the Cecafa Club Championships in Tanzania had everything going on well for them until, Dennis Mukaisi was given the marching orders by referee Isaac Ochieng’ in added time of the first half after a reckless tackle on Gor midfielder Joseph Njuguna.

After the break, the brewers tried hard to find the equalizer with changes that saw striker Patrick Kagogo going out for midfielder David Nyanzu but the Gor defence remained solid.

Occasionally lethal striker Dan Serenkuma would partner with Itubu Imbem who came in for midfielder Rama Salim in the process winning several free kicks that they failed to utilize.

The return legs of the two matches will be held on August 9 at the same venue with Tusker needing two goals to progress to the finals.

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