Brave Sofapaka go down fighting
Sofapaka’s fairytale run in the Confederations Cup is over after they went out 4-3 to Tunisian side Club African in the group stage playoff on Sunday.
The home side came from a goal down to win the return leg 3-1 at Nyayo National Stadium but it was not enough to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg.
Dodo Kayombo, John Baraza and John Onami scored the goals as Sofapaka staged a remarkable fightback in a superb second half that briefly gave fans a glimmer of hope but they ran out of time against the Tunisian opponents.
The visitors had made the better start with burly striker Ezekiel Ndouassol beating James Situma down the left flank but goalkeeper George Opiyo got down quickly to smother his cross on six minutes.
Three minutes later Wajdi Mechergui forced Opiyo to a flying save to keep out his freekick and on 20 minutes Opiyo had to be at his best to foil Ndouassol.
Club African went ahead a minute later when the powerful striker rounded Opiyo before slotting the ball into an empty net.
A goal down at home, Sofapaka needed five goals to go through and coach Francis Kimanzi responded by introducing Patrick Kagogo for John Njoroge.
The diminutive playmaker created Sofapaka’s first chance of the half on 32 minutes with a leftwing cross but Baraza poked the ball wide of goal.
The equaliser came three minutes before halftime when a Titus Mulama freekick fell for Dodo Kayombo and he prodded the ball home.
Kimanzi introduced Bob Mugalia at the start of the second half and he added pace and bite to the attack. Kagogo forced another save from Sami Nefzi on 66 minutes.
Mugalia then forced an even better save from Nefzi who had to be at full stretch to keep out his header on 71 minutes.
Sofapaka took the lead two minutes later when Baraza sidefooted a Thomas Wanyama corner into the corner.
Sensing blood, the hosts poured forward in search of goals and they made it 3-1 seven minutes from time through Onami.
Mugalia dinked the ball back into the area and even though Nefzi saved Mulama’s header, Onami was at hand to bundle in the rebound.
But try as they might Sofapaka could not find the two goals to complete a remarkable fightback.