AllStars B coach, Coach James Angila had everything to smile about yesterday afternoon, after he saw his team complete a double win of their two Rift Valley Provincial league weekend matches.
The two matches were the team's final first leg matches, and the team was very determined to finish their first leg on a high - something the coach had earlier promised of.
On Saturday, the team was playing against Ol Kalou Youth FC for a 1pm kick off match that was hosted at the Nakuru Athletic Club grounds. Playing at their own backyard, the AllStars made sure they made proper use of their home advantage by taking a 20th minute lead through a Jesse Otuko goal, with some credit going to Benson Wagara for the assist. The team then lost their focus and allowed their opponents to get back into the match to give the match a 1-1 half time score.
After the break, the AllStars stepped back into the pitch looking to restore their lead - of which they did through Hassan Yusuf. The player received a sublime pass from Moses Nderitu, and he did not let his provider down as he ensured the ball ended at the back of the net to make it 2-1 - a result that stood till the final whistle of the match.
The team was on Sunday afternoon hosting Shalima FC for their final match of the 1st leg, and their second match of the weekend. The match kicked off brightly for the AllStars, who created a lot of goal scoring opportunities and denied their opponents the ball by ensuring that they commanded possession. Benson Wagara should had given the AllStars an early 9th minute lead after being played through by Ochako Ongoro, but the forward - one-on-one with the keeper blew away the opportunity by shooting straight at the keeper's hands.
In the 14th minute Ochako's run was well spotted by Meshak Wanyama, who played a long ball to the forward, but Ochako's dangerous looking cross found nobody in the box to make an easy connection. The AllStars would then take a deserved lead through Robert Arot, who finished a fine move by tapping the ball into the net after connecting well to Peter Mwangi's cross.
Shalima almost got the equalizing goal in the dying stages of the 1st half after dispossessing the AllStars goalie, but they never capitalized on the keeper's blunder. The visitors then threatened again with a shot form the edge of the area, but the ball went wide off the intended target.
The AllStars showcased their might in the second half, where they played with ease and made things very difficult for their opponents. Having a very good day on the pitch, Meshak Wanyama provided Kevin Rubi with a decisive pass, and the latter made no mistake as he scored to double his team's lead. The hosts would then ensure that they bag all the three points with a convincing 3-0 victory by netting in the third goal, this time round Meshak being the scorer off Charles Mirugi's assist.
The AllStars now sit on the third spot of the league table with 33 points from 15 matches.
The AllStars team continued to plunge more into the relegation zone this afternoon with a 1-0 loss to Chemelil Sugar FC, in a just concluded Tusker Premier league match that was played at the Afraha Stadium.
The 3pm kick off match was a match that the AllStars needed to get a positive result from, as the team started the day six points adrift the safe zone. But the match never got of to a good start for the home side as they went down in the 14th minute, and never found a way back.
Before the goal, the AllStars had started the match well - where they went forward as well as defended strongly, as they were playing against a side that sits on the top five position of the table.
The first effort of the match fell to Chemelil's Likonoh Georson, who's 4th minute shot at goal was well stopped by AllStars goalie Shaban Odhoji. Six minutes later, it was the AllStars who were on attack and a nice move ended with a fierce shot by Eratus Mwaniki, though that shot never hesitated the keeper as he made a dive to put the ball into his gloves.
On the 11th minute, Daniel Kamau got injured in an aerial challenge - where he was left with a cut to the back of his head after he met with an opponent's elbow. After a good assessment to his injury by the team's physios, he was whisked away to the hospital for further treatments, and that prompted the introduction of Wilson Andati in his place for an AllStars' 12th minute substitution.
Looking very dangerous on the left wing for Chemelil, Likonoh was a constant threat to the AllStars defense, and he proved just that by producing the assist to the Chemelil goal. The player swung in a corner from the left and the AllStars failed to clear the ball, and it fell to Daniel Murage - who's first attempt at goal was saved by Odhoji, before ensuring he got his name into the score sheet by slotting in the rebound.
The goal acted as a wake up call to the AllStars, as they now had to come out in numbers to try and get an equalizer. In the 26th minute, John Ndirangu blasted his shot wide off the target off a free kick, and AllStars' best chance came three minutes later, where Peter Ng'ang'a was denied a goal by the Chemelil keeper after he tried to tap the ball into the net. The moved had started well with a short corner by Ndirangu and Achesa, before the latter found Ng'ang'a by delivering a low cross into the Chemelil box.
With the match nearing the third quarter of the first half, the heavens opened up and the playing surface became a bit tricky for the players, thus minimizing the chances for attacks. Peter Ng'ang'a went into the referee's book in the 45th minute for a bad tackle on an opponent, just before the referee sent the teams into the dressing rooms for the half time break.
The rains became heavier into the restart to the second half, and the player from both sides seemed to struggle more because of the slippery surface. Much play was switched to long balls, with both teams looking to try to get to their opponent's in the quickest of ways possible as a counter tactic due to the nature of the pitch.
On the 50th minute, a tired looking Titus Achesa was taken off in place of Teddy Siwa for the AllStars' second substitution of the day. Wilson Andati then tried his luck three minutes later with a shot from the edge of the 18-yard area that looked to be heading in but went slightly off the intended target, with his team piling all sorts of pressure on their visitors.
Teddy Siwa should had at least made the keeper work with his 69th minute effort, after he had been played by Ndirangu - who had dribbled his was from the right wing - but Siwa instead hit a shot that went wide off the crossbar, for what was a good chance for an equalizing goal. AllStars' next chance after that came in the closing stages of the match, where Dennis Sikhai missed the target by a mile from a free kick, and the AllStars almost got punished for a defensive blunder. Odhoji punched the ball from a shot and decided to come out of his box to chase after the ball, but a Chemelil forward was first to the ball and delivered a cross that was met by David Nyanzi - who failed to head the ball into the unguarded goal.
Mwaniki's 91st minute header off a long ball was well saved, before Chemelil caught the AllStars on a counter attack and almost scored the second but the effort went wide.
With the three minutes of added time having already gone, the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the match.
The loss leaves the AllStars at the bottom of the table, with 16 points from 24 matches.
Coach Peter Okidi yesterday stated that his men are in great shape, and have all cocked their guns in readiness for tomorrows battle against Chemelil Sugar FC. The coach today echoed in his same words from yesterday, but did add a lot of emphasis on two words; focus and belief.
"We will be lining up against a good team that has been good throughout the season, but if we go into tomorrows match with a lot of focus and a lot of belief in ourselves and our abilities, then I really don't see how we cannot come out the winners. It is a do-or-die match for us."
Currently bottom of the league table with 16 points from 23 matches, the AllStars will be coming into tomorrow's match off the backdrop of a 1-0 win the team got at the expense of Thika United, where they recorded their first away win of the season - a match that was played about three weeks ago on August 24th. The AllStars have won 3 matches, have drawn 7, and have lost 13 matches. The team has so far netted in a total of 11 goals and have conceded 27 times, leaving them with a goal difference of -16.
Even though the last time the AllStars played at home they recorded back-to-back defeats against Mathare United and Sofapaka FC respectively, it is at home where the team has seemed to be having a better form. They have won twice, have drawn four and have lost six times. It is a better record compared to their away where they have won once, have drawn three and have lost seven.
Fourth placed Chemelil Sugar have a total of 38 points from 23 matches - just 4 points adrift of the league leaders Gor Mahia - who have played two matches less than Chemelil. They have won 9 matches, have drawn 11, and have lost 3 times. The sugar millers have so far netted in 18 goals, and have conceded 10 in the process.
Boasting of having the strongest defense in the league for conceding only 10 goals so far in the season, it is Chemelil who are the side that has so far conceded the least number of goals. Added to that is the fact that they are also the only team who are yet to lose an away match.
The first leg of this corresponding fixture ended in a 2-0 win for Chemelil, where both goals were scored on either half by now AllStars forward Anthony Nyangor, who might have the chance to face off against his former employers during tomorrow afternoon's match.
AllStars will have all their players up for selection, except for Lawrence Juma who is still nursing a shoulder injury.
The match is set to kick off at 1600 hrs and will be played at the Afraha Stadium.
The battle for places in the starting eleven for the team's next fixture seems to be brewing up - with team coach Peter Okidi admitting that every player seems to be in great shape as they prepare to host Chemelil Sugar FC on Saturday afternoon for their next league match.
Speaking after today's training session, the coach said that he was pleased by the players for their efforts, and encouraged them to keep their focus and their belief alive.
"They (the players) have been great throughout the week. We have been training so hard and very well. Every player is aware of the current position that we are in and they are really doing their best to ensure that we change that for the better. All I ask is for them to keep their improvements on a high, and also keep believing that their efforts will be duly rewarded on the pitch." the coach said.
The coach went on to state the advantages of having a strong team in the camp, as the team is slowly closing in on the final matches of the season.
"It is every coach's blessing to have a fully fit squad and having the players compete for places, while its every coach's nightmare having your players either on the injury list or just out of shape. Having a good squad means that you always put your best players on the field, and you always send your best men to the field of battle to go and collect all the points available in a match. Right now this team is in perfect shape so it means that we will be sending the best team go out on Saturday to play against Chemelil."
Coach Okidi finished by saying that, "We have all our players very fit - except for Lawrence Juma who is still on the long term injury list - and the players who recently came back from injury are showing that they are also hungry for success."
Central Defender Kizito Sikhai, together with teammate Maurice Odhiambo have both completed a full training session today, after both players got their names canceled off the doctor’s list.
The players - who were both nursing knee injuries – have shown good signs of them getting back to their full fitness, as the injuries had given them a long lay-off.
Kizito’s last outing for the AllStars was back in May 25th, where the team played out to a one-all draw away at Muhoroni Youth FC, while Maurice last match was the team’s second leg meeting away at Tusker FC on August 6th, where the player was an unused substitute in the team's 3-0 loss at the Ruaraka Sports Grounds.
Speaking after today’s session, both players expressed their joy of being back on the pitch, with Kizito seeming to be the much happier given the long duration of his lay-off.
“It is always good for any athlete to get back to what they know best, and for me it is more than just a happy feeling to be finally back after more three months out. Another good thing is that the break has acted as a long rest, so I expect to regain my fitness pretty fast as my body is more fresh and ready for the challenge ahead.” Kizito said.
The player went on to state that he will be working very hard to win his place back into the team, though outlined the huge state of that task, given the depth of might the team currently possesses in his department.
“The first step is definitely trying to win my place back into the team, though that will surely be a big challenge as the team has a lot of quality in the back line. The players who are currently playing there have shown that they deserve to be there, and they have proven that it will be a hard task to knock them off the pecking order.”
Coach Nelly led AllStars D team registered a one-all draw on Saturday against Famgi FC, in a Nakuru District league match that was played at the Kisulisuli grounds.
It is the home team who took a 36th minute lead in the 11 am tightly contested match, after they had put a lot of pressure on the AllStars defense. It was a match that both teams dominated on either periods of the tie, with the AllStars proving to be a stronger team in the second half as compared to how they played in the first half.
AllStars should had equalized on numerous occasions, but they squandered all of their goal scoring opportunities, and left it late to grab a point off the match through a 85th minute spot kick.
Looking very bright up-front for the AllStars, James Gacheru was brought down in the 18 yard area by an opponent, and central defender David Kamau stepped forward to take the spot kick - which he made no mistakes by slotting the ball into the net, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Sunday's Rift Valley Provincial league match pitting AllStars B Vs. Maarotian never took place, as the team from Narok County did not show up for the match that was to be played at the Afraha Stadium C ground - thus gifting the AllStars an easy walkover victory.
Even with the three points already in the bag, AllStars B coach James Angila was still not a satisfied man, as he would had preferred to win the points in the pitch, rather than through a walkover.
"I cannot deny that it feels good to have won the three points, but It would had been better if they (Maarotian) had showed up for the match. We had had some very good training sessions prior to the match, and giving my players some playing time would had been good for them too because I am very sure that they were all very ready for the match." the coach said.
With the win, the AllStars B team now has a total of 24 points from 12 matches.
AllStars on-form goalkeeper Shaban Odhoji has reiterated that his focus is still on club duties, as the player is currently training with the national team who are preparing for a friendly match slated for Saturday August 30th in Egypt against the Egyptian national side.
They player - who has been very impressive at goal since joining the AllStars - is currently enjoying his first national team call-up, and its a call-up he said has come thanks to his goalmouth heroics for his club.
"I would not be here if it wasn't for God's favor, and for the good performances that I have put up for my club. It is such a very big honor for me to be in camp with the national team. It is a very great experience for me, and I will use this as a learning experience, then translate that back to my club where nothing but the best is expected of me as we fight relegation." the keeper said.
Odhoji joined the AllStars in the mid-season from Muhoroni Youth. He has so far featured in all nine of the team's Premier League matches since he joined the club, where he has been in the starting eleven of all those matches. He has so far won himself an individual man-of-the match accolade, and has always been putting up some impressive performances that have been showcased by some breathtaking reflex saves.
"The people here at the camp are amazing. The coaching and the technical bench is all very professional and very helpful. I am here to learn and I can ascertain that I have the best teachers here who are willing to bring the best out of me. My fellow players too are very helpful. We are a family with a common goal and that is to put our nation up there with the other well know best footballing nations. I am here to represent the nation, and I will do my best not to fail our flag."
Even though the player is with the national side, he says that he still has the club duties in his thoughts, as that is where the biggest challenge lays ahead for him.
"Yes I am really looking forward to donning the national team's colors in Egypt, but I believe the biggest challenge is still awaiting for me back in Nakuru. We have a very busy schedule ahead where we want to emerge out as victors and not failures."
The player is in the national team camp together with his club teammates John Ndirangu and Bernard Odhiambo.
Dribbling master John Ndirangu aka Softie, and arguably the man-of-the match title holder, was the hero of the day for the AllStars, as his 77th minute goal was enough to ensure his team got their first away win of the season at the expense of Thika United.
“I was very happy to be on the score sheet, and even happier that in the end it was my goal that made the difference. I really thank God for the goal and for the victory, and I hope we keep up winning our matches so as to avoid the drop. The team as a whole played so well and as a solid unit. It was a hard earned victory that we all played part in.” the player said.
The 3pm match got off to a bright start for the home team, as it is them who started on an all attack mode with various attacks directed towards the AllStars goal. Thika’s Michael Olunga was behind two of very early strikes by Thika, with his second being the best of the two as AllStars keeper Shaban Odhoji had to stretch to parry the ball out from a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Olunga was again on target from a one-one-one situation, but again Odhoji did brilliant to keep his goal safe with an amazing save. Olunga then played his team mate through at goal but Moses Odhiambo could only see his effort well saved by Odhoji
AllStars first real threat on the Thika goal came in the 12th minute where Haji crossed the ball into the Thika box off a break, but the defense was well on standby to neutralize the threat. The first card of the day was drawn in the 18th minute, and it was AllStars’ Dennis Sikhai who was shown a yellow card for a bad tackle on a Thika forward. A minute later, it was the home side who were on the attack again - and this time round it was Moses Odhiambo with a shot that never threatened Odhoji, just before AllStars defender Peter Kihungi kept the ball off his box with a clearance.
Looking very alert at goal, Odhoji was again called into action in the 24th minute from a one-on-one situation, and the keeper did brilliant yet again to keep the scores at 0-0. Two minutes later, AllStars should had made better to capitalize on a Dennis Sikhai’s dangerous looking cross, but in the end there was nobody to connect with the ball.
Erastus Mwaniki tried his luck from a 37th minute long-range effort that was punched away by the keeper as the AllStars pilled pressure on the home team. Thika then had an effort of their own through a counter attack, but the final ball off Luvutsi’s effort went wide off the crossbar.
The AllStars came back from the half time break as the much better side of the two, and it was evident in the way they took control of the game and restricted Thika to very minimum chances at their goal. The team almost got rewarded in the 49th minute, but Ndirangu’s shot was denied by the woodwork after his deflected effort seemed to be heading into the net.
After coming off the Thika bench, King’atua tried his luck from long distance but his shot was no threat for the AllStars defense as it headed wide off its intended target. Shaban Odhoji was then shown a yellow card a minute later for time wasting, and in the 63rd minute, AllStars made their first substitution by bringing on Daniel Kamau for Mohamed Haji.
Peter Kihungi tried to get his name on the score sheet with a 68th minute audacious left-footed effort that went wide off the goal, just before his defensive partner Bernard Odhiambo did brilliant to block a dangerous shot from a Thika forward who has directed his effort toward the AllStars goal. AllStars’ second substitution of the day came in the 73rd minute with Teddy Siwa coming on for Kennedy Owino.
Daniel Kamau became the third AllStars player to get booked in the 76th minute for a poor tackle on an opponent, just before Odhoji denied King’atua from a close-range thunderbolt shot to punch the ball out – and two minutes later, it was the AllStars who were celebrating their goal.
Cersidy Okeyo received a long ball and did well to read the run of Daniel Kamau, who later played the ball across the goal and Ndirangu made an easy tap-in to seal his third league goal of the season.
Moses Odhiambo almost gave Thika the equalizer in the 84th minute, but his shot was well saved by Odhoji. Kamau almost made it 2-0 in the 87th minute, but his shot rolled just inches wide off the post after the keeper was well beaten. Another goal-bound shot by King’atua was well dealt with by Odhoji, and minutes later goal scorer Ndirangu was substituted for Anthony Ng’ang’a.
With the fourth official having indicated four minutes of added time, Thika kept the AllStars at the back foot, as the visitors seemed to have retaliated to defend their lead. Peter Kihungi received a booking in the 94th minute, and the AllStars were forced to hang on to their lead even as the match was played for six more minutes added to the four that had been added on earlier.
The lead saw the AllStars close the gap out of the relegation zone to three points, with the team still bottom of the league with 16 points from 23 matches.
Tusker Premier League 5th placed team Thika United is who the AllStars will be looking to get points off next- through a league match that is set to be played tomorrow (Sunday August 24th) at the Thika Municipal Stadium in Thika town
The AllStars will be coming into tomorrows match off a poor run of three straight league losses - a run that has seen then fall down the league's pecking order to the bottom of the table, where they are five points adrift the relegation zone.
The AllStars have so far collected a total of 13 points from 22 league matches. The team has won just 2 league matches, has drawn 7, and has lost 13. The AllStars have a goal difference of -17 that comprises of 10 goals scored and 27 conceded.
Thika United on the other hand have 33 points from 22 matches. They have won 8 matches, have drawn 9, and have lost 5 times. They have netted 25 times, and have conceded 21 in the process - leaving them with a goal difference of 4. Although both their away and their home form seems to be almost at par, it is good to note that their home form slightly stands above the other, as they are the only team in the league who are yet to lose a home match. They have won 4 and have drawn 6 of the 10 matches that they have played at their own backyard.
The AllStars is the only team in the league who are yet to win an away match, and it is away from home where the team has struggled the most. 7 of their 13 losses have come on away matches, and it is also on away matches where the team has conceded 16 out of their total 27 conceded goals.
The AllStars will be boosted with the return to full fitness of midfielder Cersidy Okeyo, who was on the bench during the team's last league match where they lost at home to Sofapaka. Midfielders Maurice Odhiambo and Lawrence Juma, together with forward Sebastian Muchera and defender Sikahi Kizito will not be available for selection as they are still on the doctor's list.
The first leg of this match ended in a 1-0 win for the visitors Thika United, who only needed a 59th minute Michael Olunga goal to seal the victory.
Tomorrow's match is set to kick off at 1500 hrs.
On form AllStars E offensive player Zablon Kutere was the man-of-the match during today's friendly match, where his team whitewashed Makadara FC in a match that was played at the Nakuru Athletic Club grounds.
The AllStars were too much of a strong opponent for their visitors, as it is them who carried the day with a massive 12-2 win.
Win numerous names on the score sheet for the AllStars, one name in particular was outstanding. Zablon's hat-trick ensured that his name was enlisted on the score sheet on three occasions - while still boasting of two assists - to unanimously claim the man-of-the match title.
While Zablon did his magic on the pitch, his coach on the sidelines was showering him with praises, while terming the young lad as a star in the making.
"He (Zablon) was in very fine form today. He carried the team with both shoulders." coach Alice said. "Zablon is a very good player. He is very intelligent and has skills. Looking at today's match, you could see how much we wanted to get involved whenever we went forward. His positioning too was so good and that's why he managed to score three and assist in two. The team in general did well too. We played well and the results says it all"
The AllStars E team was using the match to warm up their muscles in time for their next Ligi Ndogo league match, although the resumption of the league is still awaiting for the outcome of a meeting that is scheduled for this Sunday.