NAIROBI, Kenya, May 1 – Sofapaka head coach Sam Ssimbwa was left fuming at centre referee Zachariah Ashira as his side scraped to a home point in a 1-1 draw against visiting Bandari at the Camp Toyoyo ground on Monday afternoon.
The visitors had gone ahead with five minutes left on the clock via a hugely contentious Wilberforce Lugogo penalty but two minutes on the turn, Charles Okwemba equalized for the hosts with a sumptuous volley inside the box.
“Of course it was not a penalty. Even the Bandari side knows it wasn’t but the ref awarded and I am very disappointed with him. Every decision he made was against us and questionable; even the goal we scored before that one of the defenders handled like a goalkeeper and he did not give us a penalty,” a furious Ssimbwa told Capital Sport after the match.
Bandari’s Paul Nkata chose not to comment on the referee’s decision even after being taunted by his fellow Ugandan Ssimbwa that ‘even he knows they have been helped’.
Nkata had made several changes to his squad, among the people left out of the team including Ugandan Musa Mudde and Michael Luvutsi who had paired in midfield for most of the season.
The Ugandan coach explained that he had made the decision as he needed faster and more technical players to deal with the danger posed by Sofapaka, hence the decision to include more young players in his starting team.
It wasn’t an exact classic at the Camp Toyoyo with neither of the two sides creating many clear cut chances.
Bandari posed the first danger in the sixth minute with a lofted ball from Anthony Wambani finding Danny Sserunkuma inside the box, but the pint-sized Uganda couldn’t have a meaningful touch to the ball with Sofapaka shot stopper Mathias Kigonya collecting.
On the other end in the 20th minute, Ezekiel Okare’s indecision failed him as he tried to punish Bandari’s Wilson Obungu who had delayed in clearing a back pass.
Sofapaka’s Ssimbwa was forced to reshuffle his cards with midfielder Moses Odhiambo being stretchered out with a knee injury. Samuel Mutira took his place and went to right back with skipper Maurice Odipo dropping to take Odhiambo’s place in midfield.
In the second half, Ssimbwa made his second change, pulling out Okare for James Kasibante. The new entrant almost announced his arrival in style with a 56th minute free-kick that flew inches wide with Obungu left rooted to his spot.
Bandari who had so far claimed most of the possession playing the ball around with ease came close on the hour mark but Kigonya produced a wonderful reflex save to keep out a Lugogo shot from a tight angle on the right.
Substitute Shabaan Kenga should have broken the deadlock in the 65th minute but he missed a sitter with the goal at his mercy when he rushed on to meet a well diced low cross from Siraj Mohammed.
With the game seemingly headed for a barren draw, Bandari were gifted with a penalty in the 85th minute when Wambani went down easily inside the box after going toe to toe with Kennedy Oduor for the ball.
Despite protests from the Sofapaka players and technical bench, Lugogo stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way.
However, parity was to be restored just two minutes later when Okwemba struck a volley from inside the box after Felly Mulumba seemed to have blocked with his arms a free-kick from keeper Kigonya.
With the point, Sofapaka remain third on the standings with 15 points, three shy of leaders Posta Rangers.