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Makwatta stars as Ulinzi dump Leopards out of Top 8

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Ulinzi Stars midfielder John Mark Makwatta leads team-mates in celebration after scoring the opener against AFC Leopards.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Ulinzi Stars midfielder John Mark Makwatta leads team-mates in celebration after scoring the opener against AFC Leopards.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya May 1- Enosh Ochieng scored in stoppage time as Ulinzi Stars beat AFC Leopards 3-2 to eliminate Ingwe in the KPL Top Eight tournament on Saturday at Nyayo National Stadium.

Ulinzi will now join two-time champions Tusker FC in the semi-final after the Brewers bundled out GOtv Shield champions Bandari 2-1 in the early kick-off played at the same venue.

Ulinzi who had scored first in the early minutes of the game found themselves trailing after winger Clifton Miheso notched a brace but John Mark Makwatta scored his second goal of the match to restored parity in the 81st minute before substitute Ochieng rounded off the keeper to seal the victory.

Makwatta took advantage of a defensive mix up between Leopards keeper Lucas Indeche and Solomon Nasio to shoot into an empty net from outside the area to open the scores in the fifth minute.

Despite suffering an early set back, Leopards managed to rise and played better than they had in the previous three matches, passing the ball well and being more incisive in attack.

Head coach Ivan Minnaert had been forced to put up a patched team with Nasio playing at left back while winger Simon Abuko was pulled back to start as a right back.

Tom Murila was also handed a rare starting berth, being thrown up front behind main target man Kepha Aswani.

Ulinzi Stars shot stopper James Saruni was called into a superb save in the 10th minute, leaping to his left before palming away an effort from Hedmond Mauda who had found acres of space on the right.

Three minutes later, Ingwe top scorer Kepha Aswani came close with a header flushing inches wide of goal.

Leopards continued to dominate the game, searching for an equalizer knowing only too well it was a knockout match with no second chance.

Miheso was a threat all afternoon from his area of operation on the left and Sylus Shitote stepping in for the injured Brian Birgen had a torrid time marking him.

The speedy winger broke through on the left in the 38th minute but his well weighted low cross rolled infront of a gaping goal mouth with no one available to give it even the slightest of touches into the net.

Ulinzi however managed to come back into the high-paced match and Mark Bikokwa should have done better with a 38th minute chance that was saved by Indeche’s feet after a swift counter attack.

Kevin Amwayi was gifted with the ball on the left after a missed control by Abuko, but he could not punish the mistake as the ball rolled under his feet and out for a throw-in.

Leopards were the first back into the pitch from the break and it showed just how spirited they were to put their season back on track.

Eight minutes after the restart, Ingwe were back on level terms after Miheso took a sweet shot from outside the box from an Ulinzi defensive lapse.

Six minutes later, he made it two with a wonderfully taken freekick that leaped over the wall and into the bottom left of James Saruni’s goal.

Immediately, Ulinzi head coach Robert Matano made a double substitution with Joseph Kuria and Mark Bikokwa coming off for Churchill Muloma and Enosh Ochieng.

Amwayi should have had Ulinzi back level in the 62nd minute but his curling effort on his favorite left foot was well tipped over by Indeche.

Ulinzi put up a spirited fight and Makwatta had a swerving shot from the edge of the box go wide in the 68th minute with Job Muhati who had just come on for Cliff Kasuti heading wide alone at the far post from a Sylus Shitote cross.

Ulinzi’s persistence paid off superbly at the stroke nine minutes from time, Makwatta striking a superb effort with his weaker left foot from the edge of the box.

Ulinzi managed to pile more pressure and they got the winner in added time, Ochieng rounding off the keeper after being played through by Makwatta.

-Tusker advance-

Humphrey Mieno celebrating after scoring Tusker FC's second goal against Bandari FC in the KPL Top 8.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Humphrey Mieno celebrating after scoring Tusker FC’s second goal against Bandari FC in the KPL Top 8.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

In the earlier kick off, Humphrey Mieno struck twice in the same fashion as Tusker remained on course for a third KPL Top 8 title.

The Dockers had put themselves into the lead early in the first half through a superb Edwin Lavatsa strike in the 12th minute.

Tusker pulled level in the 20th minute with Mieno tapping into the net after Ronald Musana had pulled back a deep cross from Timonah Wanyonyi.

Antony Ndolo should have doubled the tally for Tusker but he wasted a brilliant chance alone inside the box shooting straight to Wilson Obungu.

Mieno made it two15 minutes after the restart when he easily nodded home from a Jackson Macharia low pass in the box.

On Monday, Sofapaka face Muhoroni Youth in the third quarter final before defending champions Gor Mahia square it out with debutants Ushuru FC at Nyayo National Stadium.

The two matches will be preceded by the final of the KPL Under-20 tournament.

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