NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – Thika United’s hope of reviving their chances of surviving the axe for a second consecutive season were dealt a massive blow on Wednesday afternoon after suffering a 3-0 loss at the hands of Kariobangi Sharks in Machakos.
George Abege’s second minute goal, Duke Abuya’s finish six minutes from time and Eric Kapaito’s penalty at the stroke of full time saw Sharks climb to seventh in the Kenyan Premier League standings.
Thika remained pegged bottom of the pile with a sixth consecutive loss and are 10 points away from safety with six matches remaining before the season ends.
Former Harambee Stars goalkeeper Joseph Rutto stepped up on the touchline for the second consecutive game after former head coach John Njogu hired mid-season left the club on personal grounds.
But, it was Sharks who got off to a perfect start inside the opening minute of the game when Ugandan forward George Abege glanced home at the near post after racing to a Moses Mwangi cross from the right.
It was a relieving start for William Muluya’s charges who have endured a tough second leg and just last weekend put to an end a five-match losing streak with a slim 1-0 win over Sofapaka.
Thika, with heaps of relegation worries on their faces put in a gallant fight as they seek to clutch to any available straw of survival with six matches left before the season ends.
They should have gone level after 12 minutes when the experienced feet of Hajji Mwachoki sent youngster James Kinyanjui through, but the latter’s low effort inside the box was parried away by Sharks keeper Gad Mathew.
They almost paid for that miss in the 18th minute when a poorly defended freekick from Bolton Omwenga, but Duke Abuya could not burry the ball home from close range with Allan Owiny saving.
Thika did not show signs of being cowed despite going down and Mwachoki rolled back the years with a 25th minute shot from range after intercepting a Pascal Ogweno pass, but the shot went wide.
Sharks went on attacking as well and on the half hour mark, they had a brilliant chance when Patillah Omotto’s freekick from the right landed on Shaphan Oyugi unmarked inside the box, but the midfielder’s connection went awry.
Mwachoki, despite his advanced years showed that he still got the quality stringing in passes in the final third and anchoring the Thika attack. Six minutes to half time he came gloriously close to drawing the side level but his left foot shot inside the box was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Mathew.
In the second half, Sharks continued pushing and Abege had two more chances, first heading wide unmarked from the edge of the six yard box from an Omwenga freekick in the 58th minute before shooting wide after being sent through from the right in the 65th minute.
He was hauled off for Sidney Simale and it seems the new entrant picked up the bag of misses. Just six minutes after coming on, Simale did well to break into the box before wiping past Sosthenes Idah, but his eventual shot was saved by Owiny.
In the final minutes of the game, Thika tried to get at least a point off and they had a chance late on with Dennis Matasi’s freekick from the edge of the area flying inches over.
Abuya dealt Thika the hammer blow in the 84th minute with a simple finish inside the box after Sharks turned over possession from Thika.