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AFC, Ulinzi match abandoned due to crowd trouble

AFC Leopards fans in a past SPL match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya
AFC Leopards fans in a past SPL match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

MUMIAS, April 23- The match between AFC Leopards and Ulinzi Stars at the Mumias Sports Complex on Saturday evening was abandoned in the 80th minute due to crowd trouble, after a section of AFC fans threw projectiles into the pitch contesting a penalty awarded to Ulinzi.

The military side’s midfielder Churchill Muloma had been brought down inside the box by defender Ramadhan Mohammed and referee Andrew Juma pointed straight to the spot, the two teams tied at 1-1.

Both had earlier scored from the spot with Kepha Aswani striking for Ingwe and John Mark Makwatta hitting the target for Ulinzi.

A section of the fans violently protested the decision forcing the game to halt. One of the AFC stewards reportedly attacked the referee physically. Makwatta stepped over to take the penalty after the fans were quelled by head coach Ivan Minnaert and their players but no sooner had the Ulinzi forward pulled backwards to prepare for the spot-kick than trouble brewed all over again.

The referee in consultation with the match commissioner made the decision to call off the match over security fears.

“It is uncalled for and quite against what we are trying to do now as KPL to eradicate hooliganism. We will await the report of the match commissioner on what transpired in Mumias and make a decision. Ulinzi will be awarded the match after we receive the reports. The issue will also go to the disciplinary committee from where further sanctions on AFC will be decided on,” Kenya Premier League Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda told Capital Sport.

It is the second time within a space of one week that violence have been witnessed in a SportPesa Premier League match, with Gor’s game against Tusker FC last weekend witnessing the same scenes following a controversial penalty awarded to Tusker.

AFC were awarded a penalty just a few minutes after the second half started, Bernard Ongoma having been brought down by Omar Mbongi inside the box. Aswani stepped forward to send James Saruni the wrong way for the opener and his fifth of the season.

Ulinzi responded upping their attack and were awarded a penalty as well almost immediately, Cresten Mwanzo handling inside the box from an Omar Mbongi cross from the left. Makwatta stepped forward for the response.

The pace of the game picked with both sides swinging their attacking flair and the soldiers were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute after Ramadhan axed Muloma inside the box.