Tough test turns into easy sail… that was the situation as we beat Kariobangi Sharks 2-0 in Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Cup quarter-final fixture today at Utalii Grounds.
Coming into this fixture with heads high after beating us 4-3 in this season’s first leg league match, Sharks had all reasons to be confident.
Shark’s confidence and hopes of strolling to Cup semis were reduced to regrets by quality strikes in each half of the game.
Containing them well and attacking when necessary, our first goal came after midfielder Karim Abdul Nikiema unleashed a ferocious shot straight into the back of the net leaving the goalkeeper staring helplessly.
The goal marked the genesis of what was waiting Sharks in the second half…. a game well balanced in the second half with Sharks searching for an equalizer as we cut short their efforts.
A long ball into the area, Captain Haron Shakava went for it and the lineman’s flag was up for a handball – penalty for Sharks as centre referee pointed to the spot.
It was goalkeeper’s Gad Mathews turn to show character and qualities of being a top keeper.
True to expectations, Gad stepped up to the plate as he superbly saved the penalty to keep us well in the lead with about half an hour left to play.
Sharks pressed hard upfront but the well organised defence of Haron Shakava, Frank Odhiambo, Andrew Juma, Geoffrey Ochieng and Phillemon Otieno proved a hard one to deal with.
The match seemed to be headed for a 1-0 win until Sharks won a free-kick in our half on the second minute of the three added minutes.
It was for sure their last chance to salvage a draw and hope to nail it in shootouts – but not on this day when our star up above was shining and glittering.
Their only slim hope turned into a disaster as the free-kick was well blocked in the box and a counter attack was launched with energy and focus to finish them off completely.
Defender Frank Odhiambo was the man at the centre of the deadly counter attack, bursting with the ball through the centre with enough gas in the cylinder to burn through the distance into Sharks half.
A tackle flew and Frank went down but with focus on the possibility, there was no time to waste waiting for a foul, he picked the ball leaving Sharks player on the ground – Sydney Ochieng and Jules Ulimwengu had already arrived and positioned themselves for the assist.
He weaved his way through setting up midfielder Sydney Ochieng who showed what class and technique is infront of the goal – cooly placed the ball past the oncoming keeper and into the net to hammer the final nail on Sharks’ coffin.
2-0, the scoreboard read and Sharks side knew there was nothing left to fight for – no time, no energy, and no hopes at all, even restarting the game was an uphill task as the center referee blew the whistle to mark the end of the game – and that’s how we walked majestically to the semis.