Sofapaka’s elimination by Kariobangi Sharks in the GOtv round of sixteen at the weekend has no doubt offered one of the biggest shocks to football fans in the country.
But this should not be the talking point but rather the manner in which Fifa Fair Play rule was thrown out of the window with Sofapaka falling victims.
Although Sofapaka will squarely blame themselves for spurning scoring chances in a match which they lost 3-1, they will strongly feel there was a gross contempt of the Fifa rule when their player Hillary Echesa was writhing in pain following an injury caused by a collusion with Sharks’ Sven Yida, when the ball was still in play and with Sharks holding possession.
Ordinarily, Sharks players who were in possession were supposed to have kicked the ball out of play for Echesa to receive medical attention but they did not and with centre referee Hosea Omondi apparently seeing no evil in the oddity, this ultimately yielded the team’s third goal scored by Masoud Juma.
Before the goal, Sharks’ goalkeeping coach Sunil Shah was being heard from the dug-out shouting himself hoarse for play to be stopped to no avail. “I kept shouting from the touchlines for Sharks to stop play but maybe the players did not hear or even spot Echesa on the ground,” said Shah.
Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa also faulted the match official for the incident and called for fairness in officiating at future high-profile matches.
“Losing is normal, but one has to lose in a fair way. The referee should have stopped play when he saw Echesa injured and on the ground, but he allowed play to go ahead and the opponents scored a killer third goal.
That was very unfair and unsporting behaviour,” Kalekwa said. In the meantime, the wheat was separated from the chaff in the tournament and besides Sofapaka, the other shocker came in form of Kakamega Homeboyz being eliminated after falling 5-4 on penalties to Vihiga United.
Sofapaka’s dreams to represent Kenya in the continental event for the fourth time fell through after they fell to a tactical Sharks who have the former‘s goalkeeper George Opiyo to ‘thank’ for misjudging Masoud Juma’s brace as well as Paul Kamau’s strike.
But while many would be quick to rebuke Opiyo for the howlers, the pressure that was piled on defence line of Sofapaka defenders partly contributed in conceding is partly to blame for the easy goals that were conceded and deputy coach John Baraza remarked as much.