Nairobi City Stars and Muhoroni Youth play out a goalless draw, with Japanese sensation absent from the anticipated season opener.
Nairobi City Stars were held to a scoreless draw by Muhoroni Youth in their 2023/2024 Football Kenya Federation Premier League opener played at Kasarani Annex in Nairobi on Sunday afternoon.
In a whirlwind of fresh faces orchestrated by the Simba wa Nairobi gaffer Nicholas Muyoti the pitch saw a fusion of talents but conspicuously absent was the buzz around Japanese sensation Yuto Kusaba, fondly hailed as Mitoma.
Anticipation had soared as supporters flooded the stadium, eager to witness Mitoma's debut after his stint with the Embu-based FKF Division Two champions, FC Zenshin.
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Tore Bobe came out empty handed from the battle of new boys as Murang’a Seal scored in injury time to grab all three points
Nonetheless,there was no shortage of chances as both teams had an early sniff at goal, with Kelvin Etemesi pushing his shot wide of the right post from range in the sixth minute before Samule Kapen curled an effort inches past the upright at the other end moments later.
Newton Ochieng also failed to hit the target for the hosts on 10 minutes after latching onto Timothy Muganda's pass inside the area and Muhoroni would threaten to break the deadlock midway through the first half when Clinton Odhiambo forced Elvis Ochoro into a save before Stephen Mbihere fired narrowly wide of the goal on the rebound.
The action quickly switched to the opposite end of the pitch as Christopher Raila tested Ochoro with a strike from inside the area in the 22nd minutes, while Cliff Otieno steered a header wide of the right post from Stephen Bulugu's cross in the 29th minute.
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Leopards could not find a way to claw through a resolute Talanta side who were reduced to ten men early in the second half.
The play was briefly stopped in the 34th minute after City Stars' attacker Wycliffe Omondi was brought down. Medics had to rush onto the field to provide him with medical attention following a clash with defender Ibrahim Ochieng.
Back came the hosts, with Tom Muthomi drawing a fine save out of Elvis Noor three minutes later after receiving the ball on the right from Vincent Owino and the final chance of the half fell to Muhoroni as Odhiambo dragged an effort wide of the far post from inside the box on the right two minutes before halftime.
Tom Muthomi was quickly called into action at the start of the second half to deny Samuel Kapen, who took aim from distance in the 48th minute.
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The 25-year-old clocked 58:36 as he finished two seconds ahead of Ethiopia's Jemal Yimer who was coming back in search of his third straight win.
Muhoroni immediately went on the attack and looked a lot more positive going forward than they were in the first. But again, City Stars were lucky not to have fallen behind.
Some great work by Raila played Odhimabo through on goal, only for a last-ditch tackle by a City Stars defender to avert the danger.
The Western-Kenya based outfit were putting real pressure on the Simba wa Nairobi goals and had it not been for Elvis Ochoro on the goal line, City Stars should have been behind as the defender made a massive block to deny the away side the opener.
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The youngster finished second behind America’s Noah Lyles after he clocked 9.88 to cross the finish line.
Muhoroni came more into the game as the game grew older, and Ochiro was called into action just before the hour mark as he made a smart save to push Maxwell Odada’s shot away from goal.
That would be Odada’s last chance to impress Charles Odero as he was eventually withdrawn for Ali Shariff.
The change seemed to take a little of the sting out of the Muhoroni attack which gave City Stars some much-needed respite.
In the closing stages of the match, Kelvin Etemesi tested Muthomi with a thunderous shot from well outside the box, and a Muhoroni defender handled the ball. However, the resultant penalty was fired over the bar by Kelvin Etemesi.
How they lined up:
City Stars: Elvis Ochiro,Edwin Buliba, Timothy Muganda, Wycliffe Omondi, Dennis Wanjala,Elvis Noor, Vincent Owino, Samuel Kapen,Denis Oalo,Kelvin Etemesi, Newton Ochieng
Muhoroni Youth:Tom Muthomi, Cliff Otieno,Stepehen Bulugo,Alex Onchwari,Ezekiel Juma,Raila Christopher,Ibrahim Ochieng, Kevin Okoth, Maxwell Odada, Collins Odhiambo, Stephen Mbihele