AFC Leopards jump to second place

By nesta kizito
Oct 24, 2013
  • AFC Leopard players celebrate their win over Karuturi.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

AFC Leopards moved to second spot in the Kenyan Premier League with a 1-0 win over hard fighting Karuturi Sports on Thursday evening at the Moi International Sports Centre.

Leopards seemed to have been distracted by an earlier decision by Football Kenya Federation Appeals Committee to award Gor Mahia the abandoned match against Sony Sugar which in essence confirmed K’Ogalo as the new league champions.

James Nandwa’s men’s performance was in stark contrast to the dominant display they gave against Sofapaka four days ago at the same venue in a GOTV Shield semifinal match that they won 2-0.

The first half was a dour exchange with neither team showing hunger infront of goal. After the breather Ingwe managed to raise their game but still they found it hard to crack the flower men’s code.

In the 58th minute Allan Wanga missed a decent chance after Paul Were picked him out in the box with a sweet delivery but the Kenyan international striker’s clever flick drifted wide.

Karuturi took advantage of the opposition’s lethargy to launch sporadic attacks, but still it’s Leopards who looked more dangerous moving forward.

The breakthrough finally came in the 87th minute when Wanga toe poked Charles Okwemba’s pin point cross from the left for the match winning goal.

It’s a result that complicated the bottom placed Karuturi’s chances of surviving the chop. The Naivasha flower men who prop the table with 21 points now need a miracle to escape imminent relegation.

Their newly installed player-coach Jacob Omondi cut a forlorn figure at the final whistle.

Crestfallen

“It’s really sad that we lost today, especially given that we created a few decent chances. We will try to find a way out in the remaining matches,” a crestfallen Omondi said.

Omondi’s opposite number Nandwa, who incidentally coached him at Karuturi two seasons ago, was gracious in victory praising Karuturi for a spirited fight “It was a very tough match.

In the first half we looked lost in the game and Karuturi was the better side. I think fatigue played a part. But I am happy with the results which puts us on course to finishing second in the league,” Nandwa said.

There are six matches lined up for the weekend but with Gor Mahia already the champions, focus now shifts to the relegation dogfight with Karuturi, Kakamega Homeboyz, Sony Sugar and Mathare United all in the mix.

Although bottom side Karuturi are six points from safety, defeat to Tusker on Sunday in Naivasha will be a death knell. Karuturi need a miracle to survive.

Second from bottom Homeboyz will also need to beat newly crowned champions Gor Mahia to keep their survival hopes alive.

Sony Sugar will fancy their chances of halting AFC Leopards five-match winning streak in the league when they host Ingwe at Awendo Green Stadium while Mathare United have a date with Chemelil Sugar at the latter’s home turf.

There is also the little matter of the second place, which has been reduced to a three-way battle between AFC leopards (44 points), Sofapaka (43 points and KCB (40 points).

Weekend fixtures Saturday: Bandari vs Western Stima (Mbaraki - 3pm) Sunday: Thika United vs City Stars (Thika - 3pm), Chemelil Sugar vs Mathare United (Chemelil - 3pm), Gor Mahia vs Kakamega Homeboyz (Kasarani - 3pm), Karuturi Sports vs Tusker (Naivasha - 3pm), Sony Sugar vs AFC Leopards (Awendo - 3pm), Muhoroni Youth vs KCB (Muhoroni - 3pm)