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Kassumba strikes late as Sofapaka go top

Kariobangi Sharks defender Nixon Omondi makes a brilliant tackle to deny Sofapaka’s John Avire a chance to progress during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 18, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

MACHAKOS, Kenya, Apr 18 –Umaru Kassumba struck at the stroke of 90 minutes as Sofapaka moved to the top of the Kenyan Premier League standings despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Kariobangi Sharks at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Thursday afternoon.

Ugandan George Abege had given Sharks the lead in the first half before Kassumba drew Sofapaka level at the stroke of 90 minutes, though their title ambitions remain under serious threat.

Had they won, Batoto ba Mungu would have moved to 47 points, two ahead of second placed Bandari and three ahead of defending champions Gor Mahia.

But with the point, Sofapaka went top with 45 points same as second placed Bandari who have an inferior goal difference and one ahead of holders Gor Mahia who have a five-game deficit.

Sofapaka striker Umaru Kassumba vies for the ball with Kariobangi Sharks’ Nixon Omondi and Tom Teka during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 18, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluAbege scored the all important goal on the half hour mark when he tapped into an empty net after Geoffrey Shiveka nodded back the ball across the face of goal from a Duke Abuya freekick, keeper Justin Ndikumana caught off position.

Prior to that, Sharks who lost 2-0 to Sofapaka in the first leg had good chances to score. In the 18th minute, Sidney Lokale had an opportunity when he was picked out by an Abuya cross from the right but his shot went wide.

In the 22nd minute, Abege forced a decent save off Ndikumana when he twisted and turned away from Mousa Omar releasing a stinging shot that the Burundian keeper turned behind for a corner.

At the start of the second half, Sofapaka coach John Baraza made changes to his midfield, Mohammed Kilume and Ibrahim Kitawi coming off for Elli Asieche and Stephen Waruru.

The two got into the thick of things quick enough and Sofapaka started creating danger.

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Nine minutes from the restart, Waruru floated in a brilliant cross from the left with Kepha Aswani rushing to it, but the veteran striker could not hit the ball on target from close range.

Three minutes later Aswani had another chance when Asieche’s corner landed on his head at the backpost, but the striker’s header with Sharks keeper John Oyemba beaten to the ball going wide.

Sofapaka striker John Avire wheels away from Kariobangi Sharks’ Nixon Omondi during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 18, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Baraza made more changes with striker Mike Oduor coming in for Aswani. Sharks were forced into a change when defender Shiveka had to be stretchered out after a collision with John Avire.

Sofapaka camped in the Sharks half to try and create something and came close twice, first Willis Ouma’s tap from a Waruru delivery rolling across the face of goal before Titus Achesa’s shot on his weaker right foot went just inches over the bar.

Kassumba however drew them level with a header after Ouma had tapped back Achesa’s cross into the box. They would have won the game in dramatic fashion but Sharks keeper John Oyemba pulled a great save to deny Avire off a free-kick.

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