BY STEVE AYOO
Title holders Kariobangi Sharks secured an unprecedented third straight FKF Shield final spot after an own goal from their former player Bolton Omwenga gave them a 1-0 win over KCB FC.
After 2015 champions Bandari FC had confirmed their seat in the 2019 final by crushing minnows SS Assad in the first semi-final, it was up to the two Kenyan Premier League sides to battle it out for the remaining slot.
A game played at frenetic pace was settled by Omwenga’s unlucky own goal just six minutes into the second half.
The duo had kept the few fans who turned up at the Kenyatta Stadium at the edge of their seats with end to end football but which lacked serious goal mouth action.
Sharks constantly prodded the Bankers’ backline but captain Michael Kibwage, who was lucky not to score an even earlier own goal, marshalled his backline well, managing to repeatedly nullify the threat that James Mazembe was posing down the right, plus what Duke Abuya could create at the center.
Abuya was Sharks’ creative spark through the middle and should have grabbed an assist when he put Kevington Machika through but the attacker couldn’t beat keeper Joseph Okoth who made the save.
On the other end, Omwenga’s lethal left foot wasn’t being allowed time on the ball while Benson Amianda and Kennedy Owino were unusually quite.
Sharks took the lead after 51 minutes, Omwenga beating his own keeper from a whipped in cross from Boniface Onyango.
The two sides struggled especially with the final ball. As the minutes ebbed away, Sharks became more conservative, allowing the Bankers to have the ball in less dangerous positions.
The reigning champions however barely had to hang on as they booked their spot in the final where Bandari awaits.
The June 1 final meeting will be the fourth time the duo will be coming up against each other this season having met twice in the league and also in the Sportpesa Cup, the latter which Sharks won.
Should William Muluya’s men retain the crown, they will become the first side to do so since record winners Gor Mahia in 2011 and 2012.
The winner of the final will earn the opportunity to represent Kenya in the Caf Confederations Cup.