NAIROBI, April 17- Gor Mahia’s junior side face defending champions Western Stima in a must win tie when the two sides clash in the second Group A game of the Kenyan Premier League Under-20 tournament at the Camp Toyoyo grounds on Monday morning.
Gor Mahia lost the tournament opening match 2-0 to AFC Leopards on Saturday and a second consecutive loss would mean their chances of progressing to the last eight hang by the thread.
Coach Maurice Onyango has urged his players to up their game when they take on Stima who also have to win to keep their quarter-finals hopes alive after an opening day barren draw against Sofapaka.
“We really have to step up and improve to ensure we keep our quarter final hopes alive. In the first match we were a bit nervous because we never played as we usually do. It was very surprising to see my players pass the ball poorly, something that we are usually good at,” Onyango told Capital Sport.
Leopards who began the tournament positively will lock horns with Sofapaka and coach Ezekiel Akwana will be hoping to pick their second win and ensure they have a place in the quarters which will be played next Sunday.
In Group C matches played on Sunday, Ulinzi Stars went top of the group after thrashing Sony Sugar 3-1.
The side led by Ulinzi Stars’ senior team title winning assistant coach Fred Ogot and former player Lawrence Owino opened the scoring in the 62nd minute through Moses Mwangi who tapped into the net after the Sony keeper dropped a cross from Sedrick Asmani.
The speedy winger had brought in a lot of influence after coming on and he almost saw the side double the lead after putting Stephen Mueni through but the striker was hounded off inside the box before pulling the trigger.
Sony drew level five minutes later through Crispinus Otieno after much pressure, the Sony forward driving the ball into the bottom right corner from a freekick.
Ulinzi reclaimed the lead when Mueni broke into the box after a pass from Asmani and shooting into the roof of the net.
The Nakuru based side which had almost half of their players from St. Anthony’s Boys’ in Kitale were a much improved team and they should have had more scoring opportunities but were wasteful infront of goal.
They capped off the win however with the last kick of the game, substitute Alex Sunga dribbling past four Sony players on the left before scoring from a tight angle.
In the second Group C match of the day, ten man Muhoroni Youth, under the inspiration of senior team coach James ‘Odijo’ Omondi beat 2011 champions Thika United 2-1.
Justus Odero opened the scoring for the sugar belt juniors in the 8th minute of the match sneaking in a header at the near post from Cliff Otieno’s corner.
Thika drew level in the 19th minute through Henry Atula who pulled in a strong shot from the edge of the box.
Edwin Krop who was Muhoroni’s best player on the pitch came close when he sent a header onto the crossbar as Omondi’s charges sought to get back into the lead.
Muhoroni got the lead back into the 49th minute through Vincent Otieno with a wonderful low drive after skipping past his marker at the edge of the box.
Otieno turned from hero to villain though after he was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 70th minute. Despite the lone man advantage and piled pressure, Thika could not get an equalizer and a winner with Muhoroni resorting to time wasting tactics.
In group D, Ushuru FC made a statement of intent with a thunderous 3-0 win over Bandari. Former City Stars winger Nicholas ‘Messi’ Kamau came on into the second half to score a brace and send Ushuru top of the standings.
Kamau had to wait until the second half to get onto the pitch with his documents having to be assessed and verified.
He played for City Stars in the 2013 U-19 tournament and with his age suspect, KPL had to fork out records from the 2013 tournament to verify Kamau’s 18th November 1997 birth date and when his current records matched 2013’s, he came in and hit twice.
In the second match, Kakamega Homeboyz were 2-1 winners over City Stars to move second on the log.