NAIROBI, February 13 – Ulinzi Stars began their SportPesa Premier League campaign with a draw after being held to a goalless stalemate by visiting Sony Sugar in the opening match of the 2016 season at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium on Saturday.
In Mumias, new comers Kakamega Homeboyz stunned Western Stima 2-1, Sofapaka were 2-1 winners over Ushuru while Tusker FC rallied a goal down to beat hosts Thika United by the same scoreline.
Sony finished 10-men after Victor Ochieng was booked for a second offence in the 48th minute but still the soldiers could not beat the Awendo based side.
Ulinzi head coach Robert Matano slammed his forwards for failing to convert chances they created in the second-half.
“The draw is not good for us because we had chances in the second half but lack of skill in front of the goal cost us. The first match is always hard but the players must build their image.
“Mark Makwata and Kevin Amwayi got chances but didn’t utilize. The new young players tried and I’m sure they will come up,” a frustrated Matano outlined.
His opposite number Leonard Odipo was content with the results saying, “a draw is fair for us because we had a difficult time after going a man down. I want to give a pat on the back to my players because they gave a good account of themselves regardless of the situation,” Odipo who replaced Salim Babu at the post said.
A minute of silence was observed before the kick-off to honour former Ulinzi’s defender Kevin Ouma who was among the Kenya Defence Forces soldiers killed during a recent attack by terrorists in Somalia.
It was a first-half of few chances with the host coming close in the 20th when Kevin Amwayi set-up Mark Makwata but the latter blazed over before Sony’s Amos Asembeka wasted his set-piece.
Robert Omunuk should have sent the visitors ahead but keeper James Saruni came off his line to clear the danger, in the process picking a knock that was treated.
Makwata was denied by the cross bar two minutes after restart while on the other end debutant Daniel Onyango turned past Geoffrey Kokoyo to find space and shoot but Saruni stood tall to parry away.
The last chance for the military side came in the 70th when Makwata was put through only for the former Nairobi City Stars player to shoot direct to Sony keeper Allan Owiny who ensured his side picked a point.