NAIROBI, Kenya, July 5 – Skipper Stephen Ocholla scored a spectacular volley to help Ulinzi Stars break their six year winless run against AFC Leopards with a 2-1 win in a Kenyan Premier League (KPL) double header at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium on Saturday.
Visiting side Leopards who are yet to register a win since beating their bitter rivals Gor Mahia 3-1 on the back end of the first leg, opened the scoring in the 16th minute through stand-in captain James Situma’s deflected goal, his first since joining Ingwe.
The military side responded four minutes later, with Ochola who was named the man of the match, expertly controlling debutant John Nairuka’s cross on his chest, looping the ball over towering Joseph Shikokoti before volley past Harambee Stars keeper, Wycliffe Kasaya, for the equaliser.
Ulinzi custodian James Saruni netted the winner from the spot in the 53rd after Shikokoti handled the ball in the box.
Ochola dedicated the win to his two year-old son, sent a warning to other teams that they will pose threat as they kicked-off the second leg on a winning note.
“I have never scored a brilliant goal like this before and I’m so happy for that, I composed my self since I was well positioned and I decided to take the shot that I’m grateful it went through.
“It’s a birthday gift to my son who turned two yesterday, we want to go where elite teams are this is not where we belong so this is just the begging and we are sending a warning to the rest of the teams,” delighted Ocholla declared after the win.
His coach Robert Matano, who grabbed his fourth win since joining the Kenya Defence Forces side in late March, urged his troops to be consistent.
“It was a hard match and we won against a good team, we hope to be consistent. I urge the players to continue with the trend but not get carried by the win because this a normal game like others we should maintain the momentum,” Matano who once managed Leopards said.
His opposite number, Pieter De Jongh blamed the loss due to poor officiating.
“Kenyan football has a lot of talent but the level of officiating is very bad, I have trained in a lot of countries and I have never come across such incidences.
“Our opponents were strong physically, good mentality and they played well but I don’t agree with the referee’s decision to award them the penalty that was their winning goal,” the 43-year-old Dutchman stated.
Leopards made three changes from the squad that settled for a goalless draw against Western Stima with Joseph Wanyonyi, Austin Ikenna and winger Paul were starting in places of Ugandan Musa Mudde, Humphrey Mieno and Kenneth Wendo.
On the other hand Matano drafted his two new signing Bryan Birgen and former Thika United forward John Nairuka in the staring X1.
At the Nairobi’s City Stadium, Burundian Fiston Abduol scored on his debut to see 2009 champions Sofapaka kick-off their second leg campaign with a comfortable 3 -0 win over struggling KCB.
Veteran forward John Baraza struck first in the 26th after finding space to slot the ball home before John Njoroge doubled the lead in the 69th after exchanging passes with Baraza.
Even before the Bankers could recover, Njoroge turned provider, picking out Fiston who unloaded a powerful left shot past keeper Sammy Okinda to worsen KCB woes.
In the early kick-off at Afraha, newcomers Top Fry Nakuru held Sony Sugar to a barren stalemate with the host picking their second successive draw.
Elsewhere, forward Daniel Mwaura’s netted the lone goal as Mathare United won their second game on the bounce in a 1-0 defeat of Muhoroni Youth.
Mwaura found the back of the net in the 16th after David Ajwang sent him through to fire past Ugandan keeper Allan Owiny for the only goal.
The league continues on Sunday with champions Gor having a chance to extend their lead when they welcome Thika United at Nairobi’s City Stadium after in form KRA square it out with Nairobi City Stars at the same venue.
Tusker FC will be looking to bounce back from their 1-1 draw when they travel to Mumias sports Complex to take on Western Stima.