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Tusker climb to top of table

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi and Ernest Ndunda | February 1st 2021 | 3 min read
Tusker FC's Luke Namanda and Fred Odenyi celebrate a goal against Mathare United FC during FkF PL match at Kasarani Annex on Sunday Jan 31, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Luke Namanda's second-half goal is all that Tusker needed to beat Mathare United 1-0 at Kasarani Annex on Sunday and leapfrog KCB at the top of the FKF Premier League table.

In Mombasa, Burundian striker Jules Ulimwengu hit a brace as record champions Gor Mahia warmed up for Sunday's Mashemeji Derby against AFC Leopards with a 3-1 victory over Bandari. Nzoia Sugar piled more misery on bottom rooted Zoo after beating them 2-1 in Bungoma.

While the win at Kasarani took the brewers' points tally to 23, one shy of KCB, and extended their unbeaten run to nine matches, Gor Mahia moved into the sixth spot three points behind fourth-placed AFC Leopards (18 points).

Two penalties were missed in the first half before the industrious Namanda to take the 11-time Kenyan champions to the top of the table for the first time this season.

A jubilant Tusker coach Robert Matano said: "Though we missed a penalty, the substitutes changed the game and we managed to win. It feels great to be at the top of the table."

Tusker came close in the eighth minute, but Hashim Sempala shot straight at goalkeeper Job Ochieng before Daniel Otieno scuffed his effort on the opposite end.

And in the 14th minute, Henry Meja was brought down in the box only for him to crash the resulting penalty against the crossbar.

Tusker FC celebrate a goal against Mathare United FC during FKF PL match at Kasarani Annex on Sunday Jan 31, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Mathare United responded immediately with Daniel Otieno forcing a fine save from Tusker goalkeeper Michael Wanjala.

Luke Namanda then thought he had given Tusker the lead in the 20th minute only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.

Ten minutes later, Daniel Otieno missed from the spot after one of the brewers' defender handled the ball in the box before Meja ballooned his effort in the area after receiving an incisive pass from Namanda.

Meja then made a brilliant run on the left flank only for his shot to hit the side netting before the goalkeeper pulled a  fantastic save to stop Bonface Muchiri's effort on the stroke of halftime. Mathare replied immediately with Daniel Otieno also forcing a magnificent save from Wanjala, who was replaced on the start of the second half by Emery Mvuyekure after suffering an ankle injury.

Tusker missed a double chance two minutes into the second half. First, Meja's shot was blocked by a self-sacrificing defender, then hit the post from close range before Jackson Macharia blasted wide the rebound.

Meja then paved way for David Majak in the 50th minute with George Odhiambo and Chrispinus Onyango also coming on as the brewers tried to break the Slum Boys' resistance.

But it was Namanda who made the difference when he beat Job Ochieng with a powerful shot in the 77th minute after being set up by substitute Chrispinus Onyango.


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