THIKA, Kenya, Sep 28- A sublime freekick from Ugandan Shafik Batambuze booked Tusker FC a slot in the semi-final of the GOtv Shield tournament after beating 10-man Posta Rangers 2-1 at the Thika Stadium on Wednesday.
The game was tied 1-1 at the break, but Batambuze bent a freekick from the the edge of the box as Tusker kept their dreams of a season double intact.
Posta was reduced to 10-men in the 70th minute after defender Jockins Atudo was sent off for a second yellow card after a harsh challenge on Allan Wanga with Tusker scoring the resultant set-piece.
Posta head coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno had made two changes to his team, resting John Nairuka and Cavin Odongo for Georson Likonoh and Collins Neto respectively.
His opposite number Paul Nkata had kept faith in the same squad that won 2-1 against Muhoroni Youth last Friday.
In a half they dominated, Posta deserved to go to the break with something and they did before Timothy Otieno cancelled out Mieno’s opener.
The on-loan Gor Mahia forward surged into the box after being put through by Georson Likonoh and appeared to have been brought down by the combined effort of Lloyd Wahome and Batambuze, but he still managed to scramble a shot while lying on the ground with the Tusker backline caught dazed.
In the 18th minute, Tusker struggled to clear out a freekick from the right with Atudo collecting the ball at the far left.
The defenders strong low cross into the box evaded everyone and both Otieno and Collins Neto failed to stretch their feet at the far post to direct the ball into the net with a gaping goalmouth.
For all the possession and missed chances, Posta were punished in the 21st minute when Mieno took a super volley from the edge of the box after being teed up by Wanga who had used his sheer strength to shield away Charles Odette after picking up George Mandela’s cross.
The Kenyan international almost doubled the scores two minutes later but his technique attempting to curl the ball into the far corner from a Noah Wafula cross wasn’t right, the ball spiraling over.
Tusker were motivated by their goal and attempted to use their pace on the width in attack, but Posta had managed to read out their plans and thwarted their efforts.
Posta gradually came back into the game and their patience paid off a minute to the break with Otieno’s goal.
But Tusker almost grabbed the lead back through Mieno again, but it took a full flight save from Patrick Matasi to keep the scores even at the break.
Posta should have grabbed the lead ten minutes into the second half but Titus Achesa missed a great chance after shooting straight at David Okello from point blank having picked up a loose ball inside the box.
After Atudo was sent off, Posta pulled out striker Neto for defender Salim ‘Shittu’ Abdallah.
But Tusker took advantage of their one-man advantage to mount attacks and keep possession and came close to extending their advantage with Mandela forcing a good save off Matasi after breaking into the box.
Tusker will now meet KCB in the semi-final on Saturday at the Afraha Stadium.