NAIROBI, February 20 – Joseph Kuria opened his account at Ulinzi Stars to inspire the Soldiers beat host Tusker FC 2-0 in a SportPesa Premier League encounter played at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Saturday.
Elsewhere, troubled Wycliffe Ochomo scored at the half hour mark to see Muhoroni Youth silence Sofapaka 1-0 while at Nyayo National Stadium Ushuru and Thika United cancelled each other out to settle for a1-1 draw.
Ulinzi broke the deadlock in the 71st minute from Mark Makwata’s well curled set-piece before Kuria doubled the lead a quarter hour later to hand the Military side their first win of the season.
Ulinzi head coach Robert Matano said his half time pep talk worked to see him pick his second win against his former employer since leaving the Ruaraka based club.
“It went the way we wanted because I told my players not to panic and they should not play with the name but see Tusker as a normal team. In football you should expect a win any time, we knew we will win since we contained Tusker and shut them down,” Matano said after the win.
His opposite number Paul Nkata who suffered his first loss since joining the 10-time champions last December, blasted his players for not playing according to his instructions.
“The boys didn’t follow instructions especially the strikers because the way they were running upfront was terrible. The defence made some silly mistakes that resulted to the first goal. I don’t know what happened to my players today, we didn’t even have a single shot on target,” Nkata stated.
It was a disappointing display from both sides in the first half where Tusker where out-muscled in the midfield to see them have no shot on target against Ulinzi’s one chance that was saved by keeper Duncan Ochieng.
Ulinzi had three goal attempts that all went to waste with Makwata and new signing Mark Bikokwa the culprits after fluffing open opportunities with only the keeper to beat.
With no more chances created, both sides resulted to a physical game to see Kuria and Makwata booked as well as Tusker’s Noah Wafula in the dull opening half.
There was no improvement in the last half despite Nkata introducing attacking midfielder Ekaliani Ndolo for winger Wafula.
Tusker’s first goal attempt from Shafik Batambuze was stopped by Ulinzi custodian James Saruni in the 60th minute after the keeper threw his body on the line and in the process colliding with Ndolo.
The big moment for the Soldiers finally came 11 minutes later when the Brewers captain James Situma granted the visitors a free-kick at the edge of the box after hacking down Makwata.
Makwata stepped up for the challenge and indeed he did not disappoint as he took his time to study Ochieng’s position on goal to curl home the set-piece at the far right corner and send the Ulinzi technical bench into jubilation.
Matano brought in Daniel Waweru for John Nairuka with the substitution paying off four minutes to stoppage time when the new blood set up Kuria who connected from the left with a brilliant finish.