Advantage Sofapaka in Kenyan league play-offs against Naivas

Sofapaka defender Vincent Oluoch

Sofapaka defender Vincent Oluoch (left) clears the ball from Naivas Francis Nambute during the Kenya Premier League promotion play-off match at the Kenya Police Sacco Stadium on July 6, 2024.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Cash-strapped Sofapaka Football Club saw off hard-fighting Naivas 1-0 in the first leg of the Kenyan Premier League promotion play-off match at Police Sacco Stadium in Nairobi on Saturday.

The match was attended by Harambee Stars coach, Engin Firat, who was no doubt scouting for fresh talent for the national team.

The second leg encounter will be played at Dandora Stadium in Nairobi on July 14, and the winner will secure a place in the top-tier Football Kenya Federation Premier League next season. Sofapaka are fighting to retain their Premiership status while Naivas are seeking to enter top-flight football for the first time in their history.

Visiting Sofapaka relied on experience to wade off the swift game displayed by the Retailers who controlled most of the match.

Naivas were particularly dominant in the first half, missing two clear chances, as Sofapaka sat back and relied on the counter.

Man-of-the-match Jacob Onyango scored the all-important goal in the 90th minute with a powerful close-range strike that went beyond the despairing dive of Naivas goalkeeper, Wycliffe Oduor.

Before that, the match looked destined for a draw with both teams looking unlikely to score as the minutes elapsed

Naivas played purposeful football to the delight of their home fans but their efforts were repulsed by a composed Sofapaka defence led by the solid Vincent Oluoch, Baron Ochieng, Victor Odhiambo and Sunday Ikekhai.

Naivas came back in the second half with clear intention as they pressed forward but in vain.

An elated Sofapaka stand-in coach Ezekiel Akwana hailed his side for the tactical display and composure, while his opposite number, Collins Omondi, admitted that they lost to an experienced team.

“We lost, but we are still in contention. We shall try our best to win the return match in Dandora. Today we lost due to bad luck. We had several clear chances but we did not capitalize on them,” said Omondi.

Akwana, who took over from Zedekiah Otieno, now at Gor Mahia as an assistant coach, said they will protect their lead at Dandora at all costs.

Meanwhile, AFC Leopards have given notice for an adjourned Annual General Meeting to be held at Nyayo National Stadium on July 14. The club’s original AGM failed to take place last Sunday due to lack of a quorum.