NAIROBI, Kenya, March 7- Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions, Ulinzi Stars and runner-ups, Gor Mahia, will renew acquaintances in the competitions’ Super 8 knockout tournament after both sealed passage to the semis Tuesday evening.
Ulinzi dispensed Naivasha side Karuturi Sports 2-0 with a Mike Baraza brace while Gor replicated the score line against Mathare United in the televised double-header at Nyayo National Stadium.
Baraza fired Ulinzi who are re-discovering form after a torrid start to their KPL title defence when he lobbed keeper Noah Ayuko after a mix-up in the Karuturi rear guard set him through.
The Naivasha side pressed the issue thereafter but contrived to spurn opportunities to equalise and on 83 minutes, Baraza, who returned to the military outfit after a five-year stint playing in Tanzania, sealed Ulinzi’s passage when he fired from close range.
In the second match, Gor Mahia had a potential banana skin in 2008 KPL winners, Mathare but second half goals from Tom Onyango and Collins Okoth after a cagey opening period led K’Ogalo to the semis.
Gor who came close to beating Ulinzi to the title last KPL term will fancy their chances of advancing to the Sh1m Super 8 final and the opportunity to land their first silverware since they lifted the 2009 Football Kenya Limited (FKL) Cup. K’Ogalo completed the KPL double over Ulinzi last season.
Focus now shifts to KPL weekend matches where leaders Tusker are away to Sony Sugar in Awendo on Sunday.
Closest challengers, Sofapaka who are two points adrift have the chance to assume leadership of the league albeit for 24 hours if they beat plucky Rangers at City Stadium on Saturday.
Gor will entertain basement side Nairobi City Stars at the same venue on the same day, while Western Stima have a date with second from bottom Congo United at Mbaraki Stadium, Mombasa on Sunday. Both sides are also two points off the top on ten points.
Mathare United and Karuturi will seek to dispel their Super 8 exit gloom when they face each other at City Stadium on Sunday while AFC Leopards who lost their weekend match to Stima take on KCB.