Sofapaka Down Leopards To Go Top Of SPL, Sharks Claw Nzoia

Mar 13 - by Louis Kalinga for SportPesa News

John Avire's header brings an end to Ingwe resurgence at Bukhungu as Eric Kapaito leads SportPesa Cup winners to victory in Nairobi

Kariobangi Sharks FC players celebrate a goal in their SportPesa Premier League clash at Camp Toyoyo, Nairobi on Saturday, September 15, 2018. PHOTO/Courtesy/Kariobangi Sharks FC

  • To round off the day's action, Chemelil Sugar FC (17) recovered from their handsome 0-3 defeat to Batoto ba Mungu over the weekend to stun high-flying Western Stima FC 2-0 at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu to surge past Leopards (16) and Posta Rangers FC (16) in the table to land in position 13
  • Stima (26) who dropped to sixth with the loss, were undone by goals from John Ochieng' and Lucas Weitere in Kisumu as they failed to build on their credible 0-0 stalemate against third-placed Mathare United FC (31) in Nairobi last Saturday
  • Champions Gor Mahia FC (29) return to action on Thursday in a delayed midweek fixture against the slippery Kakamega Homeboyz FC at the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos seeking to close the gap at the top to only a single point following Sofapaka's victory that means they can no longer scale to the summit

NAIROBI, Kenya- Sofapaka FC shot to the top of the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) standings after battling to a slim 1-0 victory over AFC Leopards SC as Kariobangi Sharks FC stayed put in the top five by sinking visiting Nzoia Sugar FC by the same score on Wednesday afternoon. 

To round off the day's action, Chemelil Sugar FC (17) recovered from their handsome 0-3 defeat to Batoto ba Mungu over the weekend to stun high-flying Western Stima FC 2-0 at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu to surge past Leopards (16) and Posta Rangers FC (16) in the table to land in position 13.

John Avire’s strike at the stroke of halftime was enough for visitors Sofapaka at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega to steer them to the summit on 33 points, one clear of Bandari FC to sour the debut of Leopards fresh signing and Kenya international defender David 'Cheche' Ochieng.

Ochieng' who joined the Den earlier this week was brought on in the second half but his sides' hopes of extending their recent recovery by notching a third successive SPL win were dashed by the inform Sofapaka.

Last season's Most Valuable Player, Eric Kapaito, who is still finding his feet after a spell out with injury on the other hand, decided the keenly contested encounter between the SportPesa Cup champions Sharks and their guests from the sugar belt Nzoia at the MISC Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi with a first half strike.

Stima (26) who dropped to sixth with the loss, were undone by goals from John Ochieng' and Lucas Weitere in Kisumu as they failed to build on their credible 0-0 stalemate against third-placed Mathare United FC (31) in Nairobi last Saturday.

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At the MISC, Kapaito was the first to get a sniff at goal in the third minute but his header from Duke Abuya’s cross went inches wide before Harrison Mwendwa found his captain Eric Juma with a cross field ball and the eventual cross fell to Sydney Lokale who could not keep his effort down barely 60 seconds later. 

Stephen Etyani got Nzoia’s first attempt in the 10th from 35 yards, his effort straying just a bit wide of Brian Bwire’s goal. 

It was Sharks who enjoyed the better start and they found the opener head coach William Muluya asked for when Lokale did extremely well in the 20th to hold off two challenges from the Nzoia defence to thread the ball through to Kapaito who in turn controlled well and shot past Humphrey Katasi for 1-0 to Sharks. 

The 2018 SportPesa Shield winners continued to dominate the game but the final ball was lacking with nothing more to show for their attempts as the clock went past the half hour and they were almost made to pay for the wastefulness in the 36th when this season's Nzoia top scorer Hansel Ochieng’ came close with a free kick in the 36th but his effort went inches over the crossbar.

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That close shave roused the hosts into action and Kapaito almost doubled his and Sharks advantage in the 40th after some nice dribbling but Katasi produced a save out of the top drawer to deny him.

Sharks defender Boniface Onyango was shown the first yellow card of the game with two minutes left in the half for a bad challenge on Patrick Otieno as Muluya's side went in for the break a goal to the good.

The pattern of the game did not chance when the side re-emerged for the second stanza and in the 49th, Lokale squandered a great chance to double Sharks lead when he smacked the crossbar when he was sprung free in a one on one situation with Katasi.

Still the SportPesa Cup champions came but yet again, were let down by lack of composure when Mwendwa did well in the 56th to dribble past Thomas Wainaina and find Shaphan Oyugi but the latter could direct his header towards the goal. 

Muluya hooked off Mwendwa on the hour mark and was replaced by Henry Juma in the first change of the game before Oyugi departed shorty after for Vincent Wasambo as Sharks continued to look for a second goal to seal all three points. 

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The changes did not add thrust to proceedings and the game degenerated into a lull until five minutes from time when Otieno’s right footed shot forced a great save from Bwire in the Sharks goal to cause a huge scare for the home side whom to their credit, held on for all the spoils.

Champions Gor Mahia FC (29) return to action on Thursday in a delayed midweek fixture against the slippery Kakamega Homeboyz FC at the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos seeking to close the gap at the top to only a single point following Sofapaka's victory that means they can no longer scale to the summit.