NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15 – The race for the BetKing Premier League title has been blown wide open after league leaders Tusker FC were held to a barren draw by 10-man KCB at their Ruaraka Complex home ground.
KCB shot stopper Joseph Okoth pulled a man of the match performance especially in the second half to ensure the bankers come within touching distance of the brewers, despite playing almost half of the second period with 10 men.
The result saw Tusker move to 34 points on top of the standings after points accrued from their victory over Zoo Kericho were deducted while KCB moved to 30 points with a game at hand.
The opening half was competitive but didn’t see much of goal scoring chances. Apollo Otieno had a shot go wild over while skipper Hashim Sempala also had an effort from range blocked.
The closest chance fell on midfielder Jackson Macharia who made a good turn inside the box, but his shot didn’t gather enough strength, keeper Okoth making a smart save and the defense clearing the mess.
Tusker upped the tempo in the second half and Okoth was doing the most, picking cross balls and making important blocks.
In the 65th minute, Tusker won a set piece from 30 yards out which Rodgers Aloro took. The Ugandan beautifully curled the ball beyond the wall but the astute Okoth leaped to his left to parry the ball for a corner.
Seeking a punch in attack, Matano introduced George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Chrispinus Onyango for Macharia and Luke Namanda. Humphrey Mieno would also be brought in for skipper Sempala while Eric Zakayo came on for Boniface Muchiri.
Mieno almost caused immediate damage after being brought on when he sent Henry Meja through with a peach of a pass but the striker saw his shot go wide after the ball took an awkward bounce as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Tusker continued to pile the pressure especially after KCB were reduced to 10 men. Off a Zakayo cross from the right, Odhiambo forced Okoth into another smart save with a low header.
The keeper denied Odhiambo almost immediately when off a corner, he turned to take a snap shot which the keeper saved.
Tusker dumped balls into the KCB box, but couldn’t get the right combination to get a goal in.
The bankers might reduce the gap between them and Tusker to just a point of they win their game in hand against Mathare United on Wednesday.