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Sofapaka survive, Ushuru relegated

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Sofapaka players congratulate Noah Abich for winning the SportPesa/SJAK Player of the Month Award.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya
Sofapaka players congratulate Noah Abich for winning the SportPesa/SJAK Player of the Month Award.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – Sofapaka survived relegation after demolishing Thika United 5-1 to see Ushuru FC demoted to National Super League on the final day of the 2016 Kenyan Premier League where Tusker FC were officially crowned champions.

Sofapaka needed to win and hoped Ushuru lost away to Posta Rangers and indeed the result went their way as the taxmen lost 3-1 to see their three year stint in top flight football come to an end.

The John Baraza coached side was trailing 1-0 to Thika, but a comeback led by a brace each from Moses Odhiambo and Ezekiel Okare plus Noah Abich’s penalty handed them the result and a ticket to the 2017 KPL season.

Ushuru who have only won one match in the second leg had fought back from an early goal by Cavin Odongo with Ebrimah Sanneh levelling in the 15th minute.

However, Posta who are seeking a top five finish overturned the results with Dennis Mukaisi scoring six minutes after the restart and Odongo capping his day with a brace eight minutes later.

At the Nyayo Stadium, substitute Allan Wanga stepped off the bench to score a well taken 77th minute free kick as champions Tusker FC ended their season on a high, proudly with a 1-0 victory over their predecessors Gor Mahia in the season finale at the Nyayo Stadium on Saturday.

The Brewers, who won the league a fortnight ago courtesy of their 1-0 victory over AFC Leopards, never created as many chances as Gor who were fighting for pride, but they ended up being efficient with the half chance that came their way.

Apart from midfielder Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth who was relegated to the bench, all Gor starters lined up on the pitch to hand the incoming champions a guard of honor and applaud them for breaking their three year dominance.

It was a befitting end to the season for Tusker who not only ensured they reclaimed the league title but also finished the season with a double, and their man of the moment, head coach Paul Nkata dressed for the occasion as for the first time he wore a suit, complete with the yellow Tusker ribbon.

On his team with nothing to lose on the final day, Nkata handed a start to veteran goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng while Hashim Ssempala was rested and in his midfield place Cersidy Lumumba started.

Upfront, Wanga was also rested and in his place came in Mike Khamati who has failed to rediscover his form since returning to the side from injury.

Gor’s head coach Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ did not have his first two goalkeepers Jerim Onyango and Boniface Oluoch and in their place, former KCB custodian Sammy Okinda started in his first competitive match of the season.

George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo was also missing and in his absence Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma was pushed upfront with Rwandese Abuoba Sibomana slotting in at left back.

Fighting for pride, Gor were strong starters in the match and they had several chances to score, all which went begging.

Ouma had a shot from the left go over from a Francis Kahata cross while the former Thika United man also came close with another shot from inside the box that went wide.

Meddie Kagere should have punished Tusker in the 25th minute after they lost the ball cheaply in defense but Kagere’s shot from the edge of the box went wide.

Okoth came close for Gor in the 35th minute as well but he skewed a shot wide after turning to his weaker left foot from a well floated Karim Nizigiyimana cross.

Tusker were more offensive in the second half and Gor was forced to clear from the line in the 57th minute after Osborne Monday’s freekick found Khamati unmarked at the far post, the striker slapping the ball past Okinda.

Gor though were relentless in their hunt for a goal and they knocked at the door once again with Francis Kahata’s ferocious shot from 25 yards out coming off the bar in the 66th minute before Tuyisenge sent a low shot inches wide four minutes later.

Tusker used only their third shot on target in the 77th minute, Wanga curling the ball beyond the wall and past Okinda to break the deadlock.

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