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Sofapaka usurp Bandari in controversial tie

Sofapaka players celebrate Peter Lwassa’s early goal for Sofapaka during their Kenyan Premier League match against Bandari at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on October 6, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – Brian Nyakan stepped off the bench to score the winner six minutes from time as Sofapaka beat Bandari 2-1 in a controversial Kenyan Premier League tie at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Sunday.

If there was a day that Bandari hoped there was VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in the Kenyan league then it was today.

Wycliffe Ochomo scored what looked like a winner for Bandari after William Wadri had cancelled out Peter Lwassa’s early goal for Sofapaka, but a push and shove over the legitimacy of the goal that lasted almost five minutes threatened to turn the football tie into a boxing contest.

Referee Andrew Juma had initially given the goal but Sofapaka players furiously protested that Ochomo had guided Fred Nkata’s cross into the net with his arms, forcing him to go to the first assistant referee to consult as he was clouded with players from both sides.

The assistant ref Maryanne Njoroge acknowledged that the Bandari striker had indeed used his arms to guide the ball home, escalating what was already a pressure cooker.

The Bandari players pushed Juma to the side, forcing him to go to the Live Transmission control station asking him to look at replays, something that Juma did not do.

Bandari head coach Bernard Mwalala was livid on the touchline and had to run into the tie to hold his players off as tempers escalated.

He went back to his spot on the bench, red in anger and kicking bottles in dismay.

Sofapaka’s Elli Asieche passes the ball under pressure from Bandari’s Fred Nkata during their Kenyan Premier League clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on October 6, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

At the end, Juma’s decision stood and the game restarted.

Five minutes later, the home side was celebrating a winner after two substitutes combined. Bandari defender Brian Otieno slipped and fell under pressure from Ronald Okoth who won the ball and squared to Nyakan who slapped the ball home.

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It was a game of two halves with Sofapaka dominating the opener while Bandari came back stronger in the final 45.

Batoto ba Mungu who had erstwhile enjoyed only one win so far got into the lead after just three minutes of play, Ugandan Lwassa finishing smoothly inside the box from a Cersidy Okeyo brilliant pass.

On the opposite end, Wadri had a chance when a cross from Abdallah Hassan found him unmarked but his bouncing header went wide, Sofapaka keeper Isma Watenga left screaming at his defense.

Lwassa and Okeyo combined again and it was nearly two for Sofapaka, the two linking up same way they did for the opener.

However, this time round, Lwassa’s chip over the advancing Mike Wanyika was cleared three yards off the line by Bandari skipper Felly Mulumba.

Sofapaka’s Peter Lwassa closes down Bandari’s Fred Nkata during their Kenyan Premier League clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on October 6, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Bandari were back stronger in the second half and in the 56th minute after a period of dominance, Wadri struck them level.

With the slippery nature of the ground due to the afternoon rains, Sofapaka were slow in clearing the lines and Wadri picked up the ball inside the box to slam a powerful shot past Watenga.

Sofapaka almost restored their single goal cushion in the 68th when off an Elli Asieche corner, Kepha Aswani’s header was saved by Wanyika while George Maelo’s attempt at the rebound went against the upright.

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