NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 7- Former Sofapaka striker Patrick Mugendi scored the all important goal for South B United as the tournament underdogs beat ‘God Above All’ (GAA) Huruma 1-0 on Sunday to lift the annual Koth Biro post-season tournament title at the Umeme Ground in Ziwani.
The dust and sun at the Iconic Umeme Grounds coupled with entertaining football from both teams provided a perfect script ending for the two month tournament that was celebrating its 40th anniversary, dedicated to former organizer Charles ‘Soldier’ Handas who passed on last year.
Coming into the tournament, South B were not considered serious title contenders, but after gaining the anchor of Harambee Stars players Anthony Akumu and Musa Mohammed ensured they did just enough to bag the crown for the first time ever.
“When we started, we had very young players and everybody didn’t take us serious. But once the experienced players started coming in, we became a different outfit and we went all the way to win without a loss,” Charles ‘Korea’ Omondi, the South B coach told Capital Sport.
“The likes of Teddy, Musa and Oboya are all South B products and coming in here to play with these young boys and inspiring them is great,” the tactician added.
Even without sensational Paul Were who starred in their semi-final win, South B were still compact. Were returned to his base in Europe just after aiding them in the semis with a goal and and two assists in their 3-2 comeback win in the semis.
In front of a fully packed Umeme Grounds, the action on the pitch didn’t disappoint either as both sides produced an entertaining finale, worth every penny of the two-month duration of the tournament.
While South B had Mohammed, Oboya, Akumu, Harun Shakava and AFCLeopards’ Mike Kibwage within their ranks, Huruma had Sony Sugar custodian Kevin ‘Saha’ Omondi, his teammate Amos Asembeka, Posta’s Collins Omondi and Mathare United’s John ‘Mavado’ Mwangi.
South B had the early chances in the tie with Mugendi forcing off a good save off Huruma keeper Omondi in the fifth minute with a low shot from the left as early as the fifth minute. Nickson Omondi also had a similar effort blocked six minutes later.
Shakava was tasked with taking South B’s set pieces and he twice caused some anxiety in the Huruma box, first his curling effort from the left heading straight to the keeper on the quarter hour mark while five minutes later, another effort was spilled and Anthony Ndung’u sent the rebound over.
Huruma, under the tutelage of former Sofapaka and AFC Leopards coach Ezekiel Akwana were slow starters but they ultimately got into the game half through the opening half.
In the 26th minute, Eugene Chege had a glorious opportunity with a freekick from good goalscoring range, but he lifted the ball too high.
A defensive miscommunication between Gor Mahia centre back pair Mohammed and Shakava almost gifted Huruma an unlikely opener as both went for an aerial ball, Patrick Macharia benefiting but his shot was saved.
On the other end, Benjamin Mageson’s spectacular volley from inside the box after a cross from the right evaded the target by inches.
In the second half, both teams upped the tempo, the noise at the Umeme Grounds reaching deafening crescendo as both sets of fans rallied their team.
Huruma were the better starters and their best chance came just six minutes in when substitute Tyson Otieno who turns out for Mathare United dribbled past three markers with some good skill but his shot was inches over.
In the 58th minute, Huruma had another brilliant opportunity when Peter Njoroge with barelyhis first touch of the ball found shooting space inside the box but South B keeper Anthony Obonyo made a save.
They paid for the miss two minutes later when Mugendi twisted and turned away from two markers before shooting low past a dazed Omondi in the Huruma goal.
After going down, Akwana’s charges upped the pressure but South B’s experience at the back with Mohammed and Shakava as well as Akumu shielding infront ensured Korea’s side retained the lead to the end.
South B keeper Anthony Obonyo was named keeper of the tournament having conceded only twice, his teammate Abraham Dawo scooped the top scorer’s gong with six goals Umeme’s Ramadhan Emeka was named young player of the tournament while FIFA Best’s Musa Masika, younger brother to Harambee Stars winger Ayub Timbe was the tournament Most Valuable Player.