NAIROBI, Kenya May 2- Ulinzi Stars goalkeeper Francis Odemba saved two penalties with one hitting the bar as the Nakuru based boys were crowned champions of the third KPL Under-20 tournament,following their 3-1 post-match penalties win over Kakamega Homeboyz at Nyayo national Stadium on Monday.
The game was forced into penalties after a 1-1 stalemate in regulation and extra time with Ulinzi enduring 40 of the last 120 minutes with ten men after Peter Owuor was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 80th minute.
On the spot kicks, Kakamega’s Salim Swale and Eric Muema scored the openers before Odemba punched away Ryan Ashiono’s effort as Alex Masinde scored Ulinzi’s second to send Ulinzi warriors on the driving seat.
However, Ulinzi midfielder Ruben Wanyonyi lifted Homeboyz back in contention as he saw his spot kick saved, but he was let off the hook with Homeboyz’s danger man Faraj Ominde striking the crossbar.
Alex Sunga then made the trophy within reach by scoring Ulinzi’s third and his keeper ensured the champagne was popped as he saved John Maina’s effort.
Homeboyz had raced from a goal down to equalize in the 78th minute through Hassan Ng’ang’a but the Gilbert Selebwa led boys could not make most of their one-man advantage to take the title home.
Coming into the match, Homeboyz were the hot favorites having gone through to the final unbeaten, but Ulinzi were no pushovers as despite losing only one match in the tournament, they had shown some pedigree and were a force to reckon with.
Moses Mwangi had the first effort of the game in the eighth minute, shooting wide after being teed up by Stephen Mweni who had done well to bring down an Ibrahim Shambi cross from deep in his own half.
Homeboyz were the better side in the opening exchanges with several decent goal scoring opportunities that went begging.
Hassan Ng’ang’a came close for the Western Kenya based boys with a fierce shot that came off the crossbar on the quarter hour mark.
Three minutes later, danger man Muema wriggled his way past his markers on the left before unleashing a shot that rose inches above the bar.
A minute later, Muema set up Dan Chakali with a wonderful through pass but the winger could not find the target as his shot rolled wide of goal.
Ulinzi sucked in the pressure from Selebwa’s boys and they found the back of the net in the 25th when Mwangi beat keeper Isaya Wakasala from a tight angle after being set up by some industrious display from Alex Sunga.
Five minutes later, the winger had a chance to double the scores with a free header at the far post from a Mweni cross but his height disadvantage could not allow him to get a perfect header with the ball going wide.
Homeboyz had a chance two minutes to the break but Ulinzi custodian Odemba pulled off a stunning full stretch save to deny Ryan Ashiono who had pulled the trigger from close to 30 yards off goal.
In the second half, Homeboyz were the better side as they piled pressure from the first whistle.
However, it was Ulinzi who managed to sneak in some scoring opportunities with Vincent Ochieng shooting high after exchanging passes with Sunga while the Homeboyz custodian made a superb save to deny Sunga’s header.
Homeboyz got the equalizer after Ulinzi became complacent to see Ng’ang’a score from a yard out after Ominde’s initial effort had come off the crossbar.
Homeboyz should have wrapped up the game but Muema saw his effort cleared off the line by Dennis Owino after beating Odemba.