NAIROBI, Kenya, October 24 – Tusker FC piled the heat on front runners Gor Mahia and Sofapaka ahead of their Sunday clash in Machakos by remaining in the hunt for the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Ushuru FC at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium on Friday night.
Francis Kimanzi’s men put behind the controversy of their abandoned match against Muhoroni Youth last Sunday at the same venue where they were awarded maximum points and a 2-0 win by KPL before Football Kenya Federation reversed the decision hours before they took to the field.
Earlier at the same venue Nairobi City Stars edged closer to relegation after falling 2-1 to incidentally; Muhoroni who were trailing by the same margin before a Tusker double substitution wrought havoc that led to the game aborting after a ten minute standoff.
The Brewers victory mean defending titleholders Gor cannot be crowned repeat champions and emulate Tusker who won back to back league honours in 2012 and 13, further adding to the intriguing end to the season.
Two second-half goals from Jesse Were and Khalid Aucho lifted Tusker to 48 points, pending the decision of the abandoned tie. Had KPL’s verdict stood, they would have moved to within three points of Gor on 51 having played a game more.
Sofapaka will be out of the title race if they fall to Gor leaving Kimanzi’s side as the lone challengers provided they get a ruling in their favour.
Tusker took control of the game with midfielder Brian Osumba being the chief destroyer at the centre; showing early intent when he set Aboud Omar bearing on goal with a deft back heel from the left but the Harambee Stars defender saw his deflected shot hit the side netting.
Osumba was at it again when he uncorked a deep cross that landed on Were’s right foot after defender Douglas Okumu missed the ball but keeper Philip Odhiambo came off his line to clear the danger.
Clifford Alwanga maximized on the taxmen’s poor defence to bring in a cross from the right but the chance went begging with neither Were nor Dunga apllying the decisive touch to open the scoring with Ushuru’s defence missing.
Omar squandered an open chance after racing from the left to beat Edwin Misiko but he decided to go for glory instead of finding an unmarked teammate and they almost paid when Ken Kenyatta’s side mustered their only shot on target when Evans Kiwanuka was found unmarked in the box, only to pass, rather that shoot the ball back to a grateful keeper Duncan Ochieng.
Ushuru were reduced to ten men just upon resumption after Davis Ikocheli was punished for a second bookable offence for pushing Osumba and Were took advantage to punish the hosts almost immediately when Osborne Monday put him through in the 48th.
Uganda Cranes midfielder Aucho sealed the win for Tusker in the 72nd with a low short arrowed from range that went beyond Odhiambo’s despairing dive for his third goal of the season.
The loss saw debutants Ushuru who changed their name from KRA slumped to their seventh loss to remain stuck on 12th on 33.
-City Stars hopes dimmed-
Needing nothing short of victory to push for another escape from the trapdoor, City Stars who have survived the axe for three successive seasons failed to muster another Houdini after falling behind to Muhoroni when their captain Abass Akinyemi converted from the spot after Mark Ongwae needlessly hacked down Ronald Otieno in the box on the stroke of half-time.
Skipper Dennis Okoth levelled for City Stars from another penalty in the 76th after he was brought down by Paul Mboya, but Ezekiel Otuoma netted the winner five minutes later when he smashed home Daniel Waweru’s cross field punt.
The Kawangware based side remained stuck at the drop zone on 20 points, four behind KCB who have a game at hand with two matches to go as they begin the nervous wait in hope and prayer the Bankers will not get the win that would seal their fate alongside that of basement side Nakuru All Stars.