Muhoroni Youth put in a disciplined and solid performance as they piped Ulinzi Stars to this year’s KPL Top 8 final despite the Soldiers finding a second half equalizer in a 1-1 stalemate at the Nyayo Stadium.
Having held Ulinzi to a barren stalemate in the first leg, the visitors needed any scoring draw to progress to their maiden Top 8 final in their first ever appearance.
Abdalla Hamisi’s 23rd minute effort just yards out did half the job which was then completed after the breather despite a Brian Birgen equalizer in the dying minutes.
Ulinzi had quality chances to pull ahead and even win the game but their leading marksman, John Mark Makwatta, was uncharacteristically wasteful, overrunning the ball twice in the opening half and blasting over one chance in a million late in on.
The Soldiers were bullied in midfield especially in the first half with Muhoroni captain Francis Ocholla and Abdalla finding the necessary pockets of space to cause harm. One ball found Wycliffe Ochomo who thundered from the near post but the tight angle worked in his disfavor, the ball slamming the side netting.
Oliver Kipruto came closest to a goal for Ulinzi in the first half but his effort hit the heart of the post.
From the resultant clearance, Muhoroni poured forward in numbers and with intent as the Ulinzi defence backpedalled with utter panic. They conceded a freekick which was whipped in devilishly by Wycliffe Nyangechi and it fell invitingly to Abdalla who booted it home mid air after James Saruni failed to get a touch on the ball.
Makwatta’s heavy touches denied Ulinzi the equalizer and they could have gone into the break trailing by a two-goal margin had Ocholla’s shot not been palmed to safety by Saruni.
Ulinzi boss Robert Matano made quick changes after the interval with Stephen Waruru and Eric Apul giving way to Kevin Amwayi and Boniface Onyango.
Shortly after, Enosh Ochieng’ replaced Waweru as the Soldiers went for broke.
The changes worked to some extent as the Soldiers enjoyed possession, Churcill Muloma especially enjoying his free role.
A barrage of attacks saw Ulinzi get the equalizer through Birgen who hit home off the ground after Muhoroni keeper Timothy Igweta had failed to gather an aerial ball. Skipper Geoffrey Kokoyo powered over a header from a freekick with Igweta lost.
Igweta would occasionally have his hand in the mouth moments but the visitors held on to edge the tie on away goals.
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