NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – New Sofapaka head coach Melis Medo came back to haunt his former employers as Batoto ba Mungu beat Mount Kenya United 2-1 in their opening game of the 2018/2019 season at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Sunday afternoon.
Amani Kyatta converted from the penalty spot with 15 minutes left to make for a nervous end to the game but Sofapaka did just but enough to protect the three points.
John Avire had scored against his former side to give Sofapaka a 1-0 advantage at the break before Stephen Waruru converted from the spot early in the second half after a foul on Kepha Aswani.
Mount Kenya had to finish the game with 10 men and with no keeper after peter Odhiambo suffered a freak injury following a collision with Aswani. Skipper John Njoroge had to go in between the posts for the final five minutes of the game.
Medo handed five debuts for his team that went out against Mt. Kenya. Keeper Richard Aimo slotted between the posts while Titus Achesa and Cliff Kasuti manned either side of fullback.
In midfield, Tom Adwar partnered Kenyan international Dennis Odhiambo while Avire joined Stephen Waruru in attack.
Mount Kenya fielded a hugely new team with peter Odhiambo, Anami Kyesi and Moses ‘Dube’ Odhiambo among the few players who made it into the new side after transition.
A soggy pitch dampened the pace of the game both sets of sides struggling to get their pace going.
The two sides each tried their luck early on with strikes from range, but both went wide with Stephen Waruru’s for Sofapaka going inches away from target.
In the sixth minute, Sofapaka had a good chance when Waruru floated in a cross from the left by Michael Oduor and Cliff Kasuti both arriving at the backpost could not slide in to hit the ball on target.
A minute on the turn, Mount Kenya won a freekick from range with Samuel Ndung’u taking responsibility, but keeper Aimo parried the ball away.
Mount Kenya should have gone ahead in the 12th minute when tevin Opondo won the ball behind the defense and advanced one on one with the keeper, but his shot one on one with Aimo went against the bar. A goalmouth melee ensued, but Sofapaka managed to kick the ball away.
The game was beginning to gather momentum and five minutes on the other side, Sofapaka had a chance when Waruru skipped away from the keeper but his attempt at cutting back a cross was futile, Mount Kenya clearing the ball away.
Three minutes later Avire had another chance when he went through on the right but he chose to go for goal instead of cutting back to his mates, his effort hitting the side netting.
Avire had another chance after 33 minutes when he was sent through on goal by Justin Mico. He skipped away from the keeper but he was outpaced by Frank Bala who raced back to nudge the ball away when he was preparing to pull the trigger.
He however made amends two minutes to the break when he dived in to head Sofapaka into the lead from a well delivered Titus Achesa cross, two new signings combining for the opening goal.
Sofapaka then doubled their lead eight minutes into the second half when substitute Kepha Aswani who had come on for Mico was brought down inside the box by Amani.
Waruru stepped up and made no mistake from the spot sending the keeper the wrong way for a 2-0 cushion.
Sofapaka continued dominating having earned a confidence jab from the two goal lead and they attacked more, though they could not get the ball into the net for the third goal.
It was Mount Kenya who would bring the game into some tense ending, Amani scoring from the penalty spot after Boniface Mukhekhe was brought down by keeper Aimo.
The home side pressed to get into an equalizer, but Sofapaka defended well.
With Njoroge stepping into goal for Mount Kenya, his backline shielded him well for the five minutes he was in the hot seat and he didn’t have much to do.