DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 27 – Kariobangi Sharks are the new champions of the SportPesa Cup after beating Bandari by a solitary goal in the final at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Sunday evening.
Crowd favorite Harrison Mwenda scored the lone goal on the hour mark to hand Sharks their second major trophy since gaining promotion to the top tier in 2017.
The young squad not only fly back home with a bumper Sh3mn cheque to their credit but also earn an opportunity to face English Premier League outfit Everton FC in a friendly match at the Moi Sports Centre in Kasarani in July this year.
The two coaches maintained their strongest teams with Sharks’ William Muluya making only one change, Shaphan Oyugi starting ahead of the suspended Sven Yidah. Duke Abuya who was a huge doubt having limped off in the semis was passed fit to start the tie.
Bandari caused the first scare in the second minute of the game when the exciting Abdallah Hassan struck a low shot from the right but keeper John Oyemba made a good save to turn the ball behind for a corner.
In the 10th minute, David King’atua’s freekick from the right landed on Bernard Odhiambo’s head at the backpost but his nod went just wide.
King’atua had a go at goal himself in the 21st minute with a freekick at the edge of the box when Yema Mwana was axed by Tom Teka, but his powerful effort went just over.
Five minutes later, Oyemba was forced into a brilliant save, diving to his left to palm away the ball after Mwana had latched onto a cross from Hassan.
Sharks were almost punished after skipper Patillah Omotto lost the ball cheaply in a dangerous area and Hassan picked it up to send in a cross.
Sharks were not in their usual element and kept losing the ball especially in the middle of the pack and didn’t create many chances either.
In the 36th minute, Bandari keeper Faruk Shikhalo almost gifted Sharks a goal when he came off his line and George Abege beat him to the ball to set up Vincent Wasambo. However, the midfielder chose to swing in a cross instead of going for goal and the Bandari defense cleared.
They came very close in the second minute of added time when Abege won the ball at the edge of the box and shot on the turn, but the effort went inches wide.
Sharks came back a bit more organized in the second half and had a sniff at goal just two minutes into the second 45 when Abege tried his luck from a distance, his shot pushed away for a corner by Shihalo.
Bandari boss Bernard Mwalala made an eye raising change, bringing off midarks made a change, Mwendwa making way for Eric Juma as Muluya now sought to lock the game with a one goal lead.
Mwalala made more change, Mwana and King’atua coming off for Keegan Ndemi and Darius Msagha, changes that were meant to bolster the attack.
But, Sharks kept possession, choosing to deny Bandari any sight of the ball.
Muluya made more changes, Sidney Lokale coming on for Abege while with five minutes left defender John Kuol came on for Vincent Wasambo to add more bodies behind the ball.