NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 27- Sofapaka Under-20 head coach John Baraza says he is not worried of the influence of AFC Leopards’ 12th man when the two teams lock horns in the Kenyan Premier League U20 Championship on Thursday at the Camp Toyoyo ground.
The junior Batoto ba Mungu booked a ticket to the last eight for the first time with a hard fought 1-0 win over April finalists Kakamega Homeboyz
Baraza knows only too well the kind of influence the AFC supporters can have on the team especially after witnessing Bandari’s rally in the quarter finals crushed as they lost out 5-1 to the Ingwe Cubs who were taken off their feet by the loud supporters.
“I have previously talked to my players and I have made them understand that it is the nature of football world over. All of them have that ambition to play in the highest level and negative crowd energy is one of the things they should expect. I know it is going to be tough but we will manage,” Baraza told Capital Sport after his side’s triumph in the quarters.
Mao Ibrahim’s spectacular strike in the second half was all Sofapaka needed as they waded off a stiff challenge from Homeboyz who failed to make it to the last four for the first time this season.
“It is a disappointment that we have failed to progress because we have fallen short of our target which was to get to the final and probably run away with this thing. But it is football, we go back to the drawing board and hope we rise stronger in April,” Gilbert Selebwa, the Homeboyz head coach said.
It was a game of limited chances, restricted to a tactical battle between the two sides. None could create a clear cut chance in the opening 45 but the game opened up a bit in the second period.
Mohammed Dhukuli knocked the door first for Homeboyz with a snap shot from the edge of the box that went wide after a one-two interchange of passes with Mutinda Wambua.
Kevin Moturi had an even better chance four minutes later but he blasted over his shot from the right after being sent through by the impressive Faraj Ominde. The skipper himself had a chance in the 55th minute with a shot from inside the box that went over.
With Homeboyz knocking on Sofapaka’s door thrice, Batoto ba Mungu woke from their slumber and they should have punished the misfiring Homeboyz.
In the 13th minute, substitute Presley Musoga won the ball deep in his own half, drove into the Homeboyz area and cut back a cross which Dodo Matano could not direct into a gaping goalmouth.
-Lack of urgency-
Lackluster passing from Homeboyz once again gifted Musoga with an opportunity, this time the speedy winger taking responsibility on his own shoulders, driving into the box but the Homeboyz keeper saved with his feet.
Homeboyz were punished for their lack of urgency with Ibrahim striking a superb curling effort into the top left of the Homeboyz goal after doing well to turn his marker inside out.
The goal ignited some sense of urgency from Homeboyz who were all along taking their sweet time to pass the ball around.
Their best chance came with three minutes left on the clock, Ominde striking a superb shot from inside the box, bounced off the crossbar and appeared to have crossed the line before being cleared away by the defense. However, second assistant referee Dorcas Wanza adjudged the ball had not crossed the line.
Despite concerted last minute efforts, Sofapaka managed to seal their slim lead and keep their dream of progressing to the final alive.