NANYUKI, Kenya, Jan 19 – Debutants Ulinzi Youth came from a goal down to beat Juja Youth Soccer Association (JYSA) 3-1 to clinch the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom Central Region boys’ title at the Nanyuki Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Clinton Sheitara scored the opener for JYSA, but a spirited Ulinzi clawed back with goals from Brian Kafero, Emmanuel Lenkai and Kelvin Akmat sending them to the national finals on top of a Sh200,000 cash reward.
JYSA had to finish the match with 10 players after keeper Michael Boas was shown a str
In an end to end affair, an exciting first half saw Ulinzi go to the break with a 2-1 lead, having fought from a goal back in a half they totally dominated.
They were stung early when Shitera scored after 10 minutes, slamming the ball into the net after Ulinzi keeper Elijah Mambo palmed Robert Khalifa’s cross into his path.
The Juja based side had knocked on the Ulinzi door early with Dickson Elegae coming close with a freekick in the second minute that was pushed to the bar by the keeper while he had another effort five minutes later turned behind for a corner.
But, Ulinzi pushed on by a partisan home crowd were relentless despite going down early. They raided the JYSA half passing the ball beautifully around the pack.
Kelvin Akmat had a chance in the 12th minute, but his shot off a Lenkai pass was just wide. Eight minutes later, Anthony Masinde had a glorious chance to put Ulinzi back on level terms when he was put through on goal by Akmat, but he placed his shot wide with only the keeper to beat.
The Military boys kept on hunting and they were finally rewarded in the 29th minute when Kafero scored his second goal of the tournament with a neat finish from inside the box after controlling George Okwaro’s cross from the left beautifully on his chest.
Three minutes later, Masinde thought he had put his side level when he tapped home a loose ball inside the box but he was flagged down for offside. Two minutes later though, he provided the second goal.
The winger did well to skip away from his marker before cutting back the ball for Lenkai who controlled and shot low into the bottom right.
Ulinzi kept the hunt but were almost pegged back in the 44th minute when Sheitara was left dangerously unmarked on the right, but this time keeper Mambo made a good save.
Ulinzi were relentless in the second half as well and they came close again in the 52nd minute when Masinde’s well struck volley from the edge of the area met an equally brilliant save from JYSA keeper Michael Boas.
The shot stopper was however beaten in the 72nd minute when Akmat’s well curled freekick from the right dipped beyond him and into the net to seal the victory for the Laikipia Air Base based side.
Boas became the victim with 10 minutes left to play, his day going from bad to worse after being shown a straight red card for handling the ball outside the area. And with no substitute keeper on the bench, skipper David Kiarie had to swap to go in goal.