NAIROBI, Kenya, July 2 – Mathare United are back at the top of the Kenyan Premier League after seeing off Ulinzi Stars 1-0 at the Nyayo National Stadium as the second leg resumed on Saturday.
In Kisumu, giants AFC Leopards started their second leg on a wrong footing after going down 1-0 away to Chemelil Sugar thanks to Hillary Echesa’s 50th minute goal.
Elsewhere, Kakamega Homeboyz and GOtv Shield champion Bandari played to a goalless draw, Western Stima beat struggling Sofapaka 2-1, Ushuru were 2-1 winners over Sony Sugar while Nairobi City Stars held Muhoroni Youth to a 1-1 draw.
The big match of the day pitted former champions Mathare United and Ulinzi Stars in a match that the Slum Boys head coach Francis Kimanzi said he did not expect to carry the day.
Mathare took an early lead when Yvonne Isuza maximized on defensive laps from the Ulinzi back-line to strike home in the 10th minute.
“We are surprised by the win because I didn’t expect we could get the positive rhythm after the break especially the mentality to fight. The players did a very good job because we played a different game to find the rhythm,” Kimanzi said after the win.
“We created a lot of chances in a span of 20 minutes but more importantly, we managed to get the goal that we managed to defend it,” he added.
His opposite number Robert Matano conceded defeat, blaming his defenders for sleeping on the job but vowed to bounce back in their next fixture.
“It was a nice game but we lost because of a defensive mix-up but we will work on that. This is the start of the first leg and its painful we have lost but it’s not permanent,” a disappointed Matano stated.
After conceding early, Ulinzi found their chance at the half hour mark when Oscar Wamalwa beat new signing keeper Wycliffe Kasaya after a well creative display from the soldiers but his header went slightly wide.
Matano charges took control of the match as they surged forward looking for the equalizer but Brian Birgen, Churchir Muloma and Wamalwa failed to rise to the occasion as their efforts went off target.
Ulinzi returned a stronger side, with Wamalwa seeing his header go wide in the 56th minute, a minute before he brought in a low cross but Oliver Ruto failed to direct his header into the net.
Mathare responded in the 74th minute through Erick Johanna who did well to run on the left flank before releasing a fierce shot but Ulinzi custodian James Saruni was alert to deny him.
His counterpart Kasaya also stood tall saving two shots to ensure Matahare picked maximum points, first denying a running Ezekiel Otwoma before stopping Oliver Ruto.
Mathare are now top of the standings on 30 points, one ahead of Tusker FC who face Posta Rangers on Sunday while Ulinzi sits third on 27 points, one ahead of defending champions Gor Mahia who travel to Thika United.