NAIROBI, Kenya- Sofapaka FC’s title challenge suffered yet another setback after they were held to a barren draw by Kariobangi Sharks FC in the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) on Saturday.
The 2009 SPL winners needed victory to bridge the gap with record winners, Gor Mahia FC but could not find the breakthrough at the Kenyatta Stadium in their 25th outing of the campaign.
Sofapaka have dropped five points in the last two matches having lost 1-2 to Ulinzi Stars FC in Kericho on Wednesday.
Batoto Ba Mungu now have 42 and Gor can stretch their lead to 10 if they beat Thika United FC on Sunday.
Sam Ssimbwa lined up a strong side with George Opiyo starting in between the sticks.
Jonathan Mugabi and Rodgers Aloro manned the back with Wesley Onguso and Willis Ouma playing at left and right back in that order.
Their Ugandan top scorer, Umar Kasumba and his compatriot, Feni Ali, were deployed upfront to hunt the goals in a team captained by Hillary Echesa.
Robert Mboya retained his position in the Sharks goal while Geoffrey Shiveka captained the side from the back.
In the absence of suspended Masuod Juma, Gambian Ebrimah Sanneh and Duke Abuya played upfront.
Sofapaka got matters underway and nearly opened the scoring in the fifth minute.
Mike Oduor released a cross from the right channel but Meshack Karani’s attempted back heel veered narrowly off target.
Four minutes later, Paul Kamau won a corner kick which was delivered sweetly by Patilla Omotto but Sanneh headed wide.
In the 20th, Omotto played a give and go with Kamau in Sofapaka’s half to feed a cross to Sanneh but the former Ushuru FC man saw his effort cannon off the bar.
Kasumba was put through by Karani in the 37th but shot direct at Mboya.
They won a free kick moments later in a prime position but Echesa placed it wide.
Six minutes to the break, Abuya broke on the left flank and left Willis Ouma for dead but failed to convert from close range.
Desperate to bag maximum points and close in on Gor, Ssimbwa made a double substitution at the restart.
Wesley Onguso and Karani paved way for Humphrey Okoti and Kennedy Oduor.
His opposite number William Muluya replied by introducing Rodgers Omondi for the fading Sanneh five minutes before the hour mark as he changed his game plan, opting to sit back and hit on the counter.
Ezekiel Okare, who replaced Echesa in the 63rd, had a sniff at goal four minutes to the end but his shot sailed over the bar after combining well with Oduor.
Sharks substitute Francis Manoah would have handed the hosts victory but his effort in the dying moments was blocked by an alert Opiyo.
The point takes Sharks to third, level on 38 points with Kakamega Homeboyz who have an inferior goal difference and play AFC Leopards tomorrow.