James Magayi @magayijim
Eleven times Kenyan champions Tusker stemmed their downward spiral in the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) after whipping Ulinzi Stars 3-0 in a Thursday afternoon clash at Ruaraka stadium.
The brewers put a stop to their back-to-back losses in three preceding fixtures with a big statement against the fourth-placed Ulinzi Stars, bossing the tie with astuteness and hunger that has been conspicuously absent in the past few months.
The players’ drive propped Tusker leading early in the game and latter provided a buffer as they scored twice in the opening half to leave Ulinzi Stars hopelessly chasing the game.
Midfielder Brian Osumba launched the rout with a sublime finish after 18 minutes. He combined well with Jackson Macharia, exchanging passes before beating James Saruni in Ulinzi goal with a sublime finish.
Ulinzi tried but failed to find a way back with sleek passing moves but a well-drilled Matano’s Tusker repelled all the soldiers’ attacks with stoic defending and excellent anticipation.
Skillful forward Boniface Muchiri then doubled Tusker’s advantage by drilling a free kick past Saruni six minutes from half time to leave Ulinzi Stars with a bigger task of trying to even scores. Ulinzi missed a glorious chance to pull one goal back just before the break, Elvis Nandwa fluffing his shot to leave the brewers with a two-goal cushion heading to the break.
Ulinzi returned with purpose, perhaps emboldened by past instances when Tusker soaked in a lot of goals after appearing to enjoy comfortable leads. Tusker’s defensive nerves however, held and Osumba killed the soldier’s fight-back spirit by scoring his second of the day to raise Tusker’s tally to three.
Robert Matano’s side then engaged a match management mode, hogging possession to run the clock down while dispirited Ulinzi Stars chased shadows. Matano strengthened his side by hooking off forwards Robert Achema and Michael Khamati to shore up his midfield with the introduction of Amos Asembeka and Mathew Odongo.
Osumba who was on a hat-trick failed to score a third goal from the spot after kickind wide in the 90th minute to leave the score line defensible. Elsewhere in Mombasa, hosts Bandari left it late to beat Vihiga United in a more closely fought league match.
Darius Msagha scored the all-important goal 12 minutes from time to lift Bandari to sixth spot up from ninth. Vihiga mounted a great show in the opening half, matching Bandari’s quest for early goals with equally dangerous counter attacking play but both sides failed to find a goal.