Mwendwa Delivers Sharks To SportPesa Cup, Everton Dreamland
DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania- Harrison Mwendwa etched his name in the Kariobangi Sharks FC history books on Sunday when he fired his team to the 2019 SportPesa Cup title in a 1-0 victory over local rivals Bandari FC in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Victory, inspired by the well-taken winner on the hour mark by Mwendwa, not only earned Sharks a first ever trophy on foreign soil but booked Sharks a date to play English Premier League side Everton FC and a hefty USD30,000 in prize money.
First timers Bandari received USD10,000 for finishing second on their debut with the added consolation of their star midfielder, William Wadri, being named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player following the final played at the National Main Stadium.
Dar giants, Simba SC earlier beat fellow Tanzania Premier League side Mbao FC 5-3 on post-match penalties to finish third and earn USD7,500 with the latter getting USD5,000 for their brave run to the last four also on their SP Cup debut.
“I’m very proud of my players because they have produced good football in the three games against tough opponents. They deserved the trophy and the entire experience has been great,” Sharks head coach, William Muluya, 32, gushed.
Playing in their second SP Cup, Sharks produced a disciplined display as the team founded only in 2000 continued their stellar rise in the game after adding the trophy to their 2018 SportPesa Shield Kenyan domestic cup.
Following the final whistle, jubilant Sharks player completed a whole retinue of song and dance before their captain, Eric Juma, received the trophy from former Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Amolo Odinga, who was the chief guest to spark frenzied celebrations.
On the other hand, Yanga SC in the last eight, braved a tense shootout against Mbao before Mwendwa brilliantly nutmegged Bandari keeper, Farouk Shikhalo after being sprung clear by a inch-perfect through ball by Duke Abuya to settle the biggest game of them all.
For Bandari, coming so close to glory was also a remarkable achievement despite losing only their first game of the season.
The Dockers romped to the final with victories over Singida and the big scalp of Simba in the quarters and semis.
“Congratulations to Sharks for winning the trophy. It was a hard fought victory but we also leave Tanzania as winners in our own way.
"We are not far off from each other, we both have won the Shield and have young coaches in Muluya and myself,” Bandari boss Bernard Mwalala said in playing tribute to his opponents.
Among other dignitaries from Kenya and Tanzanian who watched Sharks become the second team to win the SP Cup after two-time winners, Gor Mahia FC were Nairobi Senator, Johstone Sakaja and High Commissioner to Tanzania, Dan Kazungu.
Principal Secretary of Sports in Kenya, Peter Kaberia and the Chief Administrative Secretary in the same docket, Hassan Noor stood in for their Cabinet Secretary, Rashid Echesa.
Despite the absence of a Tanzanian team in the final the SP Cup showpiece attracted a sizeable crowd that created a buzzing atmosphere at the stadium, with the noise levels amplified by supporter ferried from Mombasa courtesy of their title partners, Kenya Ports Authority.
The fans from the coastal city throughout the encounter, beating drums and creating quite a din that initially, appeared to unsettle the Sharks as the Dockers got off to a flying start.
Bandari were first to have a crack at goal in the second minute, with Hassan Abdallah’s right-footed effort forcing a good save from John Oyemba in the Sharks goal who pushed it out for a corner.
David King’atua then sent in a peach of a cross from a free-kick next to the corner flag in the 12th but defender Bernard Odhiambo’s header went wide of the goal.
Moments after, Sharks launched his first meaningful attack with Mwendwa threatening with an effort that sailed wide.
King’atua stepped up to smack a free kick and almost got the opening goal from a well struck effort that went inches over the goal but the first half ended goalless.
Mwalala brought off King’atua in the 51st for Darius Msagha as he sought a more direct approach up front for the Dockers.
But it was the man of the match for Sharks in the semis, Mwendwa broke the deadlock on the hour mark after Abuya sprang him clear for the final flourish.