NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4- Clifford Alwanga and Allan Wanga both dropped by Tusker FC at the close of the 2016 season showed they still have their touch of gold hitting winners for their new clubs as the second match day of the opening Kenyan Premier League (KPL) weekend played out Sunday.
At the Thika Sub-County Stadium, Wanga led by example in his new capacity as the Kakamega Director of Sports, hitting the winner as Kakamega Homeboyz beat Thika United 1-0 to start off their season in style.
In reverse direction at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega, Alwanga scored a brace as Mathare United came from a goal down to beat KPL debutants Vihiga United 2-1.
In Narok, David King’atua announced his return to Bandari in superb fashion hitting the third goal to crown a memorable start for the Coastal side as they beat star-studded Sofapaka 3-0, adding on to Anthony Wambani’s first half brace.
In Kakamega, Mathare ensured they start the season well as they look to put behind their backs ghosts of their 2017 relegation struggling fight with a win. Alwanga’s second half goals cancelled out Dennis Wafula’s early opener.
Head coach Kimanzi handed debuts to three of his new stars including the experienced Alwanga who sat at the basement of a three man attack while Johnstone Omurwa partnered George Owino in defense while Francis Omondi slotted into midfield.
With Wycliffe Kasaya yet to fully recover from a knee injury that has kept him out for the last four months, the returning Robert Mboya started in between the sticks with understudy Job Ochieng slotted in the bench.
The slum boys were quicker to settle into the afternoon affair and had the opening few chances of the match which were however not expertly executed.
John ‘Mavado’ Mwangi was at the heart of the first two chances, first connecting to a Samuel Olwande cross from the left in the second minute but his touch was pale, going straight to Barnabas Tiema.
Two minutes later, he turned provider, this time making space off on the right before dicing a low cross that the onrushing Alwanga could not power past Tiema.
But gradually, the hosts playing their first ever top flight match gradually came into the game and began to threaten. Amos Kigadi tested Mboya with a long range effort 12 minutes in but it was an easy catch for the keeper.
The hosts had two corners in succession, but none could bear fruit.
Ultimately, in the 24th minute, they banged in their first ever Premier League goal. Unmarked inside the area, Wafula found some space after high school defending from Mathare before slotting home.
Mathare had an almost immediate response when their top scorer last season Chris Oduor spotted keeper Tiema off his line, but Jonathan Mugubi managed to backtrack well to clear the ball off the line.
Ten minutes later, Alwanga had a pale effort from an Omondi corner go wide as Kimanzi’s charges looked to get back into contention before the break.
David Owino who has now been molded into left back duties had another chance with a freekick but it sailed over.
Vihiga carried to the breather a slim 1-0 advantage and Mathare came back from the half time pep talk a rejuvenated side. Just three minutes back, they were already on level terms.
Alwanga found some space inside the box and with his eyes up slapped a low effort which beat Tiema in the Vihiga goal.
Mathare kept pushing with Daniel Mwaura thrown into the fray for Mwangi with 20 minutes left, an attack minded change that sought to punch in a winner.
On the loop-side, Vihigha should have re-taken the lead but Mathare had keeper Mboya to thank when he reacted brilliantly to parry away a thumping header from Bernard Ochieng who had risen to connect to a Vincent Okullo cross.
Three minutes later, Mboya once again produced a super save to deny Daniel masinza who had taken a low shot at the near post.
Reading all the red signs, Mathare upped the tempo and they got themselves the much needed second goal in the 79th minute when the evergreen Alwanga glanced in a header from Edward Seda’s cross.
With his work done, Alwanga was rested for the bullish Chris Ochieng. Mathare managed to hold on to the slim lead for the final 12 minutes of the match, hauling themselves into the new season with some sense of confidence.