NAIROBI, April 20 – Kenya Premier League Under-20 championship holders Western Stima have been ousted from this year’s competition after finishing third in Group A, with Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards going through as first and second respectively.
Stima were held to a one-all draw by Leopards at the Ruaraka Complex on Wednesday evening in a match they needed to win by two clear goals while Gor Mahia beat Sofapaka 1-0 in the other group match played concurrently at the Camp Toyoyo ground in Jericho.
Ingwe will now face off with Mathare United in the quarter finals after the latter finished top of their group from a 1-0 win over Chemelil Sugar while the millers who finished the group second will face Gor.
Stima’s ambition of being the first team to win the title back to back were thwarted and coach Duncan Omondi is not disappointed with the results and the early exit.
“I am not disappointed at all despite the fact we have exited the tournament early. We came here knowing it is a tournament for boys, but we found it is not the same. I brought in very young boys into the team and I am glad with the experience we have picked and probably in August, we will give a better account of ourselves,” Omondi told Capital Sport after his side’s exit.
The power boys had come into the match with an attacking mentality and two minutes in, Julius Obwamu’s spectacular rabona from a tight angle went narrowly wide after the AFC keeper Brian Bwire had clashed with his own defender.
Douglas Oluma had a good chance with a shot unmarked inside the box in the 13th minute but it went wide after some good build up play from the Stima lads.
They were rewarded for their early resilience on the quarter hour mark when AFC defender Robert Masai put the ball into his own net in an attempt to clear out a low cross from Steven Otieno.
Stima kept the pressure going knowing that a second would put their quarter finals hope firmly on the table and Otieno should have made it two with another good opportunity but he blasted wide from a good goal scoring range.
In the second period AFC coach Ezekiel Akwana made a tactical sub, pulling out Philip Odhiambo who had been hugely wasteful in the first 45 and in his place brought the lanky Richard Odada. The latter’s inclusion proved a master stroke as Ingwe’s mentality and physique in midfield improved.
Just four minutes into the half, Odada had already made impact, finding Jack Bruno with a beautiful outer foot pass inside the box.
The striker was axed by Brian Otieno as he prepared to pull the trigger and the referee pointed straight to the spot with Valdo Madegwa converting.
Stima’s resilience however could not be cowed despite the equalizer and they kept troubling the AFC defence line.
Danger man Obwamu once again pulled off some master trick from his hat, controlling the ball beautifully inside the box but his shot on the half turn was well saved by the AFC keeper 15 minutes from time.
Obwamu had another chance when he raced into a through pass from Douglas Oluma, but Brian Bwire in the Ingwe goal was quicker off his line to spread his body and thwart the effort.
Leopards managed to hold on despite the increased pressure and coach Akwana was a relieved man after the final whistle.
“Today we were completely wasteful and I can say we are lucky to be in the quarter finals. We had our lunch late and the players struggled to run around the pitch. I must congratulate Stima because they gave us a run for our money,” Akwana noted.
Thursday will see the Group C and D deciders going down with Group C being the most difficult of the two.
All teams are on three points and it will be anyone’s game when they step onto the pitch at 10am.
Leaders Ulinzi Stars who are ahead on goal difference face second placed Ushuru FC at the Ruaraka Complex while third placed Sony Sugar face bottom side Bandari at Camp Toyoyo.
Ulinzi will need in the least a draw to pull into the last eight but for all the other three, a win is a must to be assured of a place in the quarter finals.
In Group D, top side Kakamega Homeboyz who have won both their opening group matches face second placed Muhoroni Youth who are on four points. A draw in this fixture will see both sides move to the last eight.
City Stars will be holding on to a last draw of faith when they host Thika United who are already out. A win for the Kawangware based boys coupled with a Homeboyz win over Muhoroni will see City Stars sail through.