NAKURU, Kenya, Apr 30 – Geoffrey Gichana recorded a goal and assist as Kenyan Premier League new boys Zoo Kericho registered their first victory of the season, shocking soldiers Ulinzi Stars 2-1 at their backyard in Afraha Stadium, Nakuru.
At the Thika Sub-County Stadium, Gor Mahia’s aim of getting back to the top of the table was thwarted as they lost 1-0 to Mathare United, their former academy prodigy Cliff Nyakeya coming back to haunt them with the lone goal in the 39th minute.
In Nakuru, Zoo picked the vital three points at the back of two consecutive draws and the excitement was visible on the pitch after referee Peter Waweru’s final whistle.
“I am so excited and the boys are really happy as well. I was sure at some point the victory was going to come because we have been picking up with each game we have played.”
“Winning is a huge morale booster to us especially noting that it has come against a very tough opponent,” Zoo Kericho head coach Sammy Okoth told Capital Sport after the match.
It wasn’t exactly Ulinzi’s day as they slumped to their second consecutive loss, having been beaten 1-0 by Kakamega Homeboyz last weekend. Daniel Waweru’s penalty miss in the first half told only half the story.
“I don’t even know what to day because we had chances to score but we couldn’t. It is a he blow to lose two matches consecutively and we conceded from two very silly mistakes,” a dejected Ulinzi Stars head coach Benjamin Nyangweso said after the match.
The soldiers were punished from two set pieces, suspect defending being their biggest undoing.
Gichana broke the deadlock on the quarter hour mark, rising highest at the far post unmarked to head home a Dominic Ouma freekick.
The goal had come just after Ulinzi’s Boniface Onyango had seen a header go straight to the Zoo keeper from a Geoffrey Kokoyo freekick and the visitors launched an attack immediately.
Three minutes after conceding, Onyango came close once again rising in to head a Waweru freekick, but the ball was humped off the line after the keeper had blubbered in his attempt to pick it up.
The soldiers kept pushing and they were rewarded on the half hour mark when Churchill Muloma pulled in a belter from the edge of the box after a half hearted clearance by the Zoo backline from a corner.
Keeper Vincent Misikhu had pushed the ball behind for a corner to deny Stephen Waruru, but he was left flat footed and rooted to his spot when Muloma pulled in the equalizer from the resultant corner.
Waruru should have made it 2-1 four minutes later, but his successful lob over the keeper never ended in the net, missing the target by a whisker after running in behind the defense.
At the stroke of half time, the hosts had the best of chances to go to the dressing room chests up, but Daniel Waweru struck his penalty against the upright after Waruru had been axed in the box.
Ulinzi started the second half with as much pace eager to get in a second goal that would cushion them off pressure and Sammy Onyango had a chance in the 48th minute from a run on the left but the keeper punched for a corner.
In the 56th minute from a swift counter attack, Waweru had a chance to redeem himself but his effort from the edge of the six yard box was saved by the keeper’s feet after Enosh Ochieng had cut back the ball for him.
Zoo then pulled in the shocker, the lanky Kevin Omondi beating Ulinzi keeper James Saruni to the ball and nodding home a free kick from Gichana.
The visitors came close to killing off the game four minutes later, but Bernard Omondi’s shot from close range after an Omondi flick was saved by Saruni.
The visitors managed to defend in numbers despite Ulinzi pressure to pick up their first ever three points in top flight.