THE heroic veteran John Baraza scored a brace to give Sofapaka a 2-1 win over AFC Leopards on Wednesday night at the National Stadium and obtain for his club the position they wanted going into the half-way break of the Kenyan Premier League.
Even though Sofapaka were on top of table before the match, victory and a total 32 points from 15 matches guaranteed that they would not be overtaken No. 2 Tusker even if the Brewers won their last match of the mid-term against Oserian on Sunday. Tusker have 28 points.
Sensational early pace-setters, AFC Leopards thus suffered their third loss in four matches, and even if they beat Sony Sugar in a re-arranged match, “Ingwe” would still be two points off the pace of the leaders.
Earlier in the afternoon at the City Stadium, Gor Mahia drew 0-0 with Western Stima and wrapped up the first leg with peculiar numbers; 15 5 5 5 11 11 0 20 [i.e, played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, goal difference, total points].
A ninth position is where Gor will be striking from after the mid-season transfer widow and then resumption on June 23.
Sofapaka 2 AFC Leopards 1
John Baraza has such predatory instincts that when you lose concentration on him you suffer the consequences. For failing to tie him up, Leopards were down in the 15th minute when Baraza squeezed through space in the six-yard box to head in a Musa Mudde cross for 1-0.
It was from some inept defending that Baraza was to hit in his second goal in the 61st minute. It was against the run of play when he controlled the ball in box, turned before shooting past Leopards’ ‘keeper Patrick Matasi.
Leopards coach Jan Koops complained about the defensive errors that let Baraza through.
“ We dominated the second half, but you do not gift a person of John Baraza’s calibre with even half opportunities. He knows what to do.
Baraza won the 2010 top scorer’s “Golden Boot” with 15 goals and it appears if he was to win it this time he will surpass that number. On a leading 12 goals in the first leg, he’d be confident about scoring more than three goals in the second period.
Leopards created chances even though the reward was only Martin Imbalambala’s consolation in the 70th minute.
Sofapaka did the early running in the match holding more possession before Baraza’s opener.
But Leopards had good response and Augustine Etemesi should have done better than blast over the bar with a yawning goalmouth at his mercy. After an overlapping Amon Muchiri brought in a cross from the right, Mike Baraza headed in but Sofapaka ‘keeper Duncan Ochieng’ saved with his legs presenting the rebound to Etemesi.
In the 25th minute Salim “Kinje” Ramadhan was fouled and Jonas Nahimana’s free- kick for Leopards went inches wide.
On the half hour mark, Mike Baraza tested Ochieng’ with a ferocious shot but the ‘keeper made a fine save.
In the second half, Leopards started brightly, and after 10 minutes Nahimana’s long ball fell well up front for Mike Baraza to head in but Ochieng’s save was spectacular.
Jimmy Bagaye came in for Victor Ochieng’ and Charles Okwemba for Oscar Kadenge. The Substitutes added bite in the Leopards’ attack and weighed in on Imbalambala’s score.
It came from a Bernard Mang’oli short tap of a free-kick to Imbalambala who hit first time and this time Ochieng’ was caught off his line for the ball to rolled in.
From then on Leopards mounted do-or-die pressure but Sofapaka kept their discipline to ride it out.
In the first minute of added time, Nahimana’s booming shot was kept away by the upright.
This match saw Leopards return to league action after Football Kenya Federation cancelled the one against Sony Sugar on the weekend.
The FKF had moved in to put Leopards under an interim “administration” following a court case that barred the current club officials from executing their duties. The federation argued that the club, without office bearers in place, did not have the capacity to ensure security during the match.
On Tuesday, FKF appointed a committee to handle Leopards affairs until the club’s administrative woes are sorted out.
The FKF appointed committee’s first mandate was to supervise the Wednesday match and comprised: Hussein Terry, Doris Petra, Patrick Naggi, Jack Oguda, Lillian Nzile and the Leopards’ team a management.
SOFAPAKA - 39. Duncan Ochieng’: 15. Hashim Mukwana, 8. Juma Abdalla, 40. Eugene Asike, 5. Edgar Ochieng’, 20. Humphrey Ochieng’ Mieno, 14. James Situma (captain), 25. Musa Mudde, 21. John Njoroge, 11. Anthony Kimani, 12. John Baraza
Reserves - 29. David Okelo, Gk; 10. Robert Binja, 9. Bob Mugalia, 22. Heretier Luvualu, 35. Felly Mulumba, 30. Joseph Nyaga, 19. John Omani
Scorer - 12. John Baraza (15’, 61’)
Coach - Salim Ali
AFC LEOPARDS - 1. Patrick Matasi: 14. Amon Muchiri, 3. Abbasi Kiwalabye, 4. Martin Imbalambala (captain), 17. Jonas Nahimana, 22. Bernard Mang’oli, 12. Augustine Etemesi, 18. Salim “Kinje” Ramadhan, 34. Victor Ochieng’ (50. Jimmy Bagaye), 11. Mike Baraza, 7. Oscar Kadenge ( 10. Charles Okwemba)
Reserves - 19. Barnabas Tiema, Gk; 26. Robert Syongo, 5. Edwin Wafula, 30. Samuel “Misse” Mwangi, 15. Francis Chinjili
Score - 4. Martin Imbalambala (70’)
Coach - Jan Koops [The Netherlands]
* * * *
Referee - Amos Wanjala
Assistant ref - Stephen Oduor
Asst ref - Stephen Maina
Reserve ref - Nasur Doka
Match commissioner - Caleb Amwayi
Gor Mahia 0 Western Stima 0
Gor Mahia came off the blocks at a high pace and their twin strikers Baldwin Ngwa and Moses Odhiambo really looked threatening in the early stages.
But Western Stima weathered the storm to go into the break hopeful of better fortunes ahead.
But neither side could break the deadlock in a well contested second period.
GOR MAHIA - Frederick Onyango: Yusuf Juma, Donald Mosoti, Musa Mohamed, Ivan Anguyo, Moses Otieno, Rama Salim, Moses Odhiambo, Kevin Ochieng' Opondo [Victor Ali Abondo, 61], George Midenyo [Kevin Omondi, 63’], Baldwin Ngwa [Edwin Lavatsa, 71’]
Coach - Zdravko Logarusic
WESTERN STIMA - Ben Mandela: Dan Makachi, Jackson Saleh [Ramadhan Balala, 71’], David Otieno, Isaac Odhiambo, Daniel Onyango, Justin Monda, George Wesa, Frederick Shimonyo, Alloys Mangi, Mark Sirengo [Wesley Kemboi]
Coach - Henry Omino
* * * *
RESULTS & FIXTURES:
Rangers 0-3 Ulinzi Stars
Sofapaka 2-1 AFC Leopards
Gor Mahia 0-0 Western Stima
2.00pm: (13)Sony Sugar v (10)KCB [Gusii]
3.00pm:(7) Ulinzi Stars v (11)Muhoroni Youth [Afraha]
3.00pm: (12)Nairobi City Stars v (4)Thika United [Hope Centre]
3.00pm: (14)Mathare United v (6)Karuturi Sports [City Stadium] * TV
2.00pm: (8)Chemelil Sugar v (15)Rangers [Chemelil]
3.00pm: (16)Oserian v (2)Tusker [Oserian]
3.00pm: Gor Mahia v AFC Leopards [Round One, "KPL Top 8] * Postponed]
7.00pm: Sony Sugar v Ulinzi Stars [ Semi-final "KPL Top 8"] * postponed
Levy Mwaka [Nairobi City Stars], One (1) red card, to miss match No. 117, Nbi City Stars v Thika United (Hope Centre)
Dennis Odhiambo [Thika United], Five (5) yellow cards, to miss match No. 117, Nbi City Stars v Thika United (Hope Centre)