By Reuben Olita
Western Region League Leaders Opet FC and runners up Malaba Giants settled for a goalless draw in a local derby played at Malaba Stadium over the weekend.
The clash which ended the first leg of the season was a seasaw encounter for the two Busia clubs which are battling to secure a place in the Division Two League next season.
With the league taking a break before the resumption of the bruising second leg, Opet has a commanding lead with 30 points from 13 matches with Giants trailing them in second place with 26 points from the same number of matches.
Giants needed to win the local Derby to narrow their rivals lead but good goalkeepeing by Erick Okodoi frustrated the efforts of Giants who came close to finding the back of the net but lady luck failed to smile on them.
In a bid to ensure fairplay, the FKF Busia Branch seconded referees from Bungoma County where Kenya Premier League Centre Referee, Winnie Were was given pivotal role to handle the match with her KPL counterpart, Jacqueline Baronko and David Barasa ( National Super League) as assisant referee one and two respectively.
The huge crowd that turned up for the epic clash thanked Hillary Musundi’s led team for outsourcing referees which ended without a hitch sending a passionate plea for it to retain the status quo in key matches to avoid post match disputes.
Giants patron Bishop Abraham Omanyo of Malaba Harvest Church said the high standard of officiation, more so by the centre referee, Winnie Were made hundreds of fans who attended the match return home happy with the draw the team recorded.
” The referee managed tension by exercising impartiality. Despite the draw, my players gave their best shot to confirm that talents abounds in the county. It’s only a matter of time and we shall have a team in top flight football,” he said.
His Opet FC counterpart, Fidelis Opeto was happy with the draw despite playing minus their top striker Salim Omedo who was red-carded in an earlier match. He disclosed plans to boost the team by signing six players including strikers, midfielders and defenders.
Club head coach, Evans Oduor said they displayed a good game but ran out of luck. He praised good officiating standards which saw the match end without any hitch. Team captain
Asimeri Brian said it was a tough game, promising to up their game in the second leg.
The match was graced by Football Kenya Federation Busia Branch chairman, Hillary Musundi, Secretary General, Reuben Olita, Treasurer Benard Onyango , FKF Teso North Sub Branch chairman Victor Ochakala and FKF Bungoma Secretary General, Caleb Amwayi among others.