NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 17- Ulinzi Stars will count their lucky stars after holding on to beat Nzoia United 4-2 on post-match penalties at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu, with the military side going through to the semi-final of the GOtv Shield.
The game was forced to penalties after a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time, but Nzoia will have only themselves to blame after losing a myriad open scoring opportunities.
In the early kick off, KCB upset Kenyan Premier League side Western Stima 4-3 also on post-match penalties after a barren draw in regulation time.
In the third Shield match played on Sunday, Posta Rangers went through to the round of 16 after beating Ushuru 5-4 on penalties in a belated round of 32 match at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Posta will play against Agro Chemical on Wednesday with the winner of the tie facing Tusker FC in the quarter-final on September 28.
The winner of this tie will play KCB in the semis while the winner of Sunday’s match between champions Bandari and Kariobangi Sharks will play Ulinzi Stars.
The military side was a pale shadow of themselves as they faced the giant killing Nzoia showing signs of fatigue after playing a tough match against Gor Mahia last Wednesday and travelling close to 400km to Kisumu.
Their experience and calm of nerves came to their rescue as they handled the shoot-out well.
John Shavanga hit the crossbar with Nzoia’s first penalty as Daniel Waweru gave Ulinzi a lead with a well taken kick to the bottom left.
Brian Otieno and Lawrence Juma put Nzoia in contention, but former Nzoia forward Mark Bikokwa and Enosh Ochieng responded for the Soldiers.
Benson Mangala stepped up to take Nzoia’s fourth, but he missed, sending the ball wide with Geoffrey Kokoyo winning it for Ulinzi.
In regulation time, Nzoia were sky high in confidence heading into a tie against a team which has never won the domestic cup.
They started faster on the front foot, dominating play and should have been ahead after seven minutes but Brian Yakhama’s header from a Luke Namanda cross came off the outside of the bar.
Ulinzi had their first opportunity in the 14th minute from a set piece, Makwatta curling the ball wide after taking responsibility upon himself after being fouled at the edge of the box.
Brian Otieno cleared the ball from the line in the 21st minute after Ulinzi defender Mohammed Hassan connected the ball from a Daniel Waweru corner.
Nzoia’s persistence and pressure paid off on the half hour mark when Lawrence Juma shot from the edge of the box after the Ulinzi backline failed to clear a corner.
Ulinzi responded six minutes later when Makwatta headed home unmarked at the edge of the six yard box from a Waweru corner.
The soldiers should have made it 2-1 but Brian Birgen’s shot with only Mangala to beat rattled the crossbar after being sent through by a crisp Makwatta through pass.
Nzoia were dominant in the second period, and had two superb chances back to back on the hour mark but all amazingly went begging.