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Thika hold Ushuru in play-off to retain KPL status

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Thika United’s Onwudi Chibueze tries to get past Ushuru FC’s Nelson Marasowe in a KPL relegation and promotion play-off at the Narok County Stadium on December 24, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAROK, Kenya, Dec 24- Thika United retained their status in the Kenyan premier League after a nerve wrecking 0-0 draw against Ushuru in the second leg of the relegation and promotion play-off at the Narok Stadium on Sunday evening.

Thika won the first leg 2-1 at home on Thursday and needed a draw of any kind to ensure they have one more season in top flight, while Kenyatta’s men were holding off for at least a 1-0 win to force the game to penalties or a win of more than two goals to win outright.

With the result, it is highly unlikely that Thika will further pursue their case at the Sports Disputes Tribunal challenging the play-off.

They had gone to the tribunal seeking a review of last Tuesday’s ruling which threw out their petition but with things swinging their way on the pitch, the case is as good as done.

Carrying with them a 2-1 advantage from last Thursday’s first leg and knowing too well they didn’t have strong legs because of limited training time, Nicholas Muyoti’s charges swung in thick and fast, looking to close down the game early.

They had two great chances in the opening 10 minutes, first, skipper Dennis Odhiambo missing a header from point blank the cross emanating from a Eugene Mukangula freekick in the sixth minute. Five minutes later, Ushuru keeper Kennedy Abwanda was called into action, picking out a Said Tsuma shot.

The visitors had perhaps the best chance of the game in the 20th minute when roles changed with Tsuma sending Mukangula through, but the striker wasted the opportunity one on one with Abwanda shooting directly to him.

But quickly, Thika’s strength began to wane off and Ken Kenyatta’s men starting coming up into the game. On the half hour Muhammad Hassan who had been given the nod to start after coming off the bench to score in the first leg had an opportunity, but his shot went off target.

Seven minutes to half time, Eliud Emase made a good save picking off a shot from Barrack Odhiambo after an interchange of passes with Patrick Macharia from midfield.

In the second half Thika went all defensive trying to safeguard their slender advantage, and Ushuru never did much to change the situation.

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