KAMPALA, August 26- Kenya Defence Forces side Ulinzi Stars FC surrendered their East Africa Military Games title without much of fight after playing to a barren draw against Uganda in Kampala on Wednesday.
Rwandese soldiers, who were watching the last day battle from the stands ended up with the trophy after the result they wanted left them atop of the round robin competition on seven points, one ahead of the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) side and the home side apiece.
Ulinzi needed to beat Uganda in their final clash at Namboole Stadium but Robert Matano’s charges ended up shooting blanks to cede their crown to APR.
The limp display was preceded by an unusual display of lack of military precision after the chief guest arrived an hour late forcing a delay of the kick-off scheduled for 12:30pm local time (+3GMT).
Both sets of players were already done with their warm up but were compelled to head back to the dressing room.
Uganda got off the mark faster and came close to scoring the opener in the 4th minute.
Geoffrey Kokoyo was forced into a superb tackle inside the box to deny Martin Mugabi after the Ulinzi defense was left in sixes and sevens trying to defend a lobbed ball from Mudde Musa who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Uganda drastically slowed down the pace of the game with Mudde, who plays for SPL side Bandari FC, dictating play from midfield after bossing his opponents with his physique.
The absence of Erick Apul or Stephen Ochollah was clearly felt with Boniface Onyango and Churchill Muloma failing to match the powerful Ugandans.
From a counter, Ulinzi should have opened the scores in the eighth but John Makwatta shot over after Kevin Amwayi dribbled on the left and fired from his weaker right foot for the block that presented the striker with the chance from the rebound.
On the other end, Francis Ochieng who has kept three clean sheets in the tournament was forced into a good save, parrying away Sony Sugar striker Robert Omunuk’s free kick in the three minutes later.
Mugabi came close for Uganda again, this time heading onto the cross bar from Moses Okello’s free kick.
Ulinzi needed a surge of pace in the second half with fleet footed Amwayi and Evans Amwoka on either wing.
The Kenyan soldiers came close again with a Boniface Onyango header from Amwayi’s long throw hitting the bar and ricocheting back to the goalkeeper.
Ochieng twice saved Ulinzi later on, all from bizarre decisions by the centre referee.
The whistler ignored the flag from his assistant for offside, with Ochieng managing to thwart both efforts in succession much to the ire of the entire Ulinzi Stars bench.
Just like they did against Tanzania, Ulinzi were forced to deal with questionable officiating which oft gave away possession when they were in attacking positions.
Ulinzi now shift their attention back to the SPL and have a midweek trip to Kisumu where they are set to face Western Stima on August 2.