Nairobi — The imposing figure of Robert Matano made a triumphant return to the Kenyan Premier League touchline as he guided Tusker FC to their third win of the season with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Wazito FC at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on Wednesday.
Ugandan forward Robert Achema scored the all important goal in the 12th minute of the game as Matano started his tenure with a win, the Brewers desperately hanging on to the slender lead till the final minute of the game.
Matano taking charge of his first match in his second coming at Tusker made changes to the squad with Brian Osumba and left-back David Mwangi all starting the match as he sought to steady the ship.
Tusker started bright in attack. In the fourth minute, referee Agnetta Itubo denied them what looked like a brilliant opportunity at goal when Achema picked the ball up and sprinted at goal after a foul on Peter Nzuki in the middle of the pack.
However, the referee pulled back play to the Nzuki foul with Achema clearly breaking off towards goal denying them advantage play.
On the other end, Tusker's veteran keeper Duncan Ochieng pulled a brilliant save to deny Piston Mutamba who had done well to outmuscle Mwangi off the ball before unleashing a ferocious volley at goal that Ochieng tipped over.
Having survived the near goal on their end, Tusker got themselves into the lead in the 12th minute courtesy of a gift from Wazito defender Emmanuel Tienan.
The Ivorian's poor control as he tried to defend a ball from Mathew Odongo fell on Achema's path and with only the keeper to beat the forward slotted the ball into the far left of keeper Peter Odhiambo's goal.
But Wazito kept on asking the questions, planting the long balls behind the Tusker defense as they sought to use Mutamba's height.
In the 14th minute, the tact nearly paid off when Mutamba turned away from Asike on the right but his shot deflected off the Tusker defender's back, but the ref gave a goal-kick.
Tusker were trying to play the ball on the ground passing around with ease as they seemed to have gained immense confidence from the goal.
In the 20th minute, Odongo came close but he couldn't direct a header on target at the edge of the six yard box off an Achema cross.
As the half wore on, Wazito grew into the game and they had two chances though both went straight to keeper Ochieng's arms.
First it was David Oswe who pulled a shot from distance and second, Tienan tried to make amends when he wriggled his way past a forest of legs on the right but his eventual shot was straight at the keeper.
In the second half, both coaches made changes, Timothy Otieno and Eric Ambunya coming on for Mike Khamati and Mwangi respectively while Wazito brought on Samson Ndegwa for Oswe.
After a balanced start, it was the Brewers who came close on the hour mark when a good team move on the left saw Osumba pick out Odongo on the far right, but the forward took too many touches in the ball and his eventual shot was weak and straight to Ochieng.
Wazito made more attacking changes, Ibrahim Mao coming on for Kennedy Ayako and the youngster almost had an immediate impact when his freekick from range evaded the target by a whisker with Ochieng well beaten.
On the other end, keeper Odhiambo almost made an unforgettable error when he missed a backpass from his skipper Dan Owino but luckily for him he was away from goal and the ball rolled out for a corner.
Wazito pounded Tusker with immense pressure as they sought to get back on level terms and Mao continued to provide danger. His freekick in the 71st minute almost caused jitters in the Tusker box but Luis Tumba missed a connecting header.
There was drama in the final minutes of the game after Wazito keeper Odhiambo seemed to have pushed Tusker's Boniface Muchiri in the face, but the referee cautioned no one from the ensuing drama.