Ulinzi have trophy safely locked up in armoury
Ulinzi Stars player Mohamed Hussein is carried shoulder high by fans after beating Karuturi Sports 2-0 to win the Kenya Premier League title at Afraha Stadium on November 14, 2010
By FRANCIS MUREITHI and SAMMY KITULA
Posted Sunday, November 14 2010 at 20:07
After waiting for five long years, Ulinzi Stars finally won the Kenyan Premier League title when they set Afraha Stadium ablaze by gunning down Karuturi Sport 2-0 in a mouth watering match.
Nairobi, a barren draw with Nairobi City Stars left second-placed Gor Mahia fans with smug faces as their high hopes came crashing down on the City Stadium artificial turf.
Tears of joy flowed freely from Ulinzi players and fans when referee Dan Ongidi blew the final whistle. Bottles of champagne were popped as Ulinzi players, led by team captain Stephen Ocholla, took a lap of honour around the stadium.
Among the spectators who formed one of the biggest ever crowds at the 10,000-seater facility in recent years were Major-General Stephen Karanja, who is in charge of the military’s Western Command, and World Cross Country legend Paul Tergat, who is also a soldier.
The Naivasha-based Karuturi would have returned home with a bigger bag of goals had their goalkeeper, Mike Wanyika, not been outstanding between the woodwork.
In top form from the whistle
The soldiers were in top form right from the first whistle and pinned their anguished opponents into their own half, forcing seven corners against one.
In the fifth minute, Ulinzi’s second corner of the match, taken by striker Chester Okoyo, landed on the head of Harambee Stars striker Geoffrey Kokoyo, who connected home past a stranded Wanyika.
Ulinzi went on the offensive after the goal and, as the flower men’s rearguard continued to wilt from persistent attacks, Anthony Nderitu missed sitter in the 14th minute.
After the recess, Ulinzi never gave their opponents time to organize their cracking defence and in the 48th minute Kokoyo saw his well taken shot inside the box fly over the bar.
Karuturi’s best moment of the game came in the 55th minute when Alfred Chole tested goalkeeper Francis Ochieng’ with a powerful volley which was parried for a fruitless corner.
Then their defender, Andrew Mbwambi, fouled an Ulinzi striker outside the box. Taking the resultant free kick in the 62nd minute, Anthony Nderitu floated in a well weighted cross which was superbly connected home by Kokoyo.
“We were simply beaten by the best team in the league and Ulinzi deserve to win the title,” said Karuturi Sports head coach Sammy Okoth after the match.
Ulinzi coach Benjamin Nyagweso said: “This is one of my best moments as a soccer coach. I’m happy that after a long struggle we have managed to achieve what we promised our fans and top management of the Armed Forces, that we shall win the 2010 KPL title.”
A dream come true
Goalkeeper Ochieng’ said the win was a dream come true. “This was the fairest officiating I have ever seen in the league this season and I just hope next season we shall see more of this kind of first-class officiating amongst the referees.”
Everything was in place for the Gor match, complete with a facsimile trophy, ‘just in case’ Ulinzi slipped in Nakuru and K’Ogalo triumphed against City Stars.
Song and dance was in plenty as Gor followers hoped for some miracle, although deep down they knew that any win for Ulinzi would do them in.
“It was one of those bad days, the boys didn’t click, but I’m happy we finished second,” said Gor Mahia head coach Zedekiah Otieno. “I congratulate them (Ulinzi) for the win though. It was a very competitive league.”
Daily Nation:*- Football*|Ulinzi have trophy safely locked up in armoury