Close shave for Matano as AFC Leopards reach GOtv Shield quarters

By alex wafula
Jul 27, 2017
  • AFC Leopards players join Keziron Kizito in celebrating his goal against Bidco FC. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

AFC Leopards endured a nervous final three minutes of the game under huge downpour at the Thika Sub-County Stadium before holding on to beat Bidco United 2-1 and progress to the quarter finals of the GOtv Shield.

David Juma had just scored what seemed to be Bidco’s consolation in the 91st minute.

Exactly a minute later, he would have snatched a late draw had he put his head on a Herritier Luvualu cross from the left. But the glaring miss unmarked inside the box summarized Bidco’s performance especially in the second half.

The National Super League side had created numerous open scoring opportunities in the second half but failed to score with Juma the biggest culprit.

Samuel Ndung’u in the 13th minute and Ugandan Keziron Kizito from the bench in the 70th minute had given AFC Leopards a 2-0 lead.

It was a close shave for Robert Matano, the new AFC Leopards coach winning against his immediate former team.

His last assignment as the Bidco coach roughly two weeks ago was taking them through to this round of the tournament with a 2-0 win over Forest Rangers.

Matano, just after the final whistle, headed straight to the Bidco changing room where he congratulated them for a good game.

He however, equally gave them a piece of his famous hair drier treatment for the glaring misses, clearly still attached to the team.

Matano impressed

For his own side, the tactician was impressed with the improvement he has seen since taking over, but still remains tight lipped on his targets.

“We can’t talk much right now. We will talk on the pitch as we progress. So far we are doing well and the players have improved very much. We are scoring, something that was a problem. This shows growth,” the tactician told Sports News Arena.

Ingwe had a brilliant start and it only took them 13 minutes to get ahead. Ndung’u broke the deadlock with a well taken low shot inside the box after being picked out by a precise Duncan Otieno pass from midfield.

Burundian Alexis Kitenge on his second appearance for AFC Leopards came close to doubling the tally two minutes later bit his glancing header from an Otieno cross went wide.

Bidco threatened to shock AFC Leopards in the 19th minute when an error from Musa Mudde gifted former Ingwe man Augustine Etemesi with the ball on the right.

However, Etemesi’s shot at the near post was well saved by Gabriel Andika. Mudde had been started off as a left back, a position he has seldom played in.

He was caught on speed a couple of times by Etemesi, but luckily none of the forays exposed the defense with Robinson Kamura always willing to race down and cover.

In terms of possession, Bidco played second fiddle to the Premier League side. Harun Nyakha and the impressive Duncan Otieno had formed a formidable wall in the middle of the pack, winning possession and distributing the ball well.

Late in the half, AFC had more chances, first with a Robinson Kamura freekick from range which was deflected for a corner while in the second four minutes from half time, Kitenge’s tap after miscommunication in the Bidco defense went wide.

In the second half though, the hosts resumed with more vigor and had a flurry of chances. Just a minute into the half, Juma picked the ball at the edge of the box but his curling effort was well picked out by Andika.

Another chance

A minute later, the striker had another chance, this time from an Edwin Walumoli cross, but the ball bounced off his path as he prepared to pull the trigger aiming at an empty net.

He had an even better chance in the 53rd minute when an inviting ball from former Bandari man Lazo Simba found him inside the box, but he was bullied off the ball by Mudde.

Four minutes later, Lambert Oyuga picked out the lanky striker inside the box but his effort at a spectacular volley only ended up in an embarrassing miss of the ball.

Reading signs that all was not going well in his camp, Matano bolted off his seat for the first time, summoning Kizito and striker Ray Omondi.

They came in to replace Nyakha and Kitenge. Kizito needed only 10 minutes on the pitch to repay the faith the coach had in him.

The Ugandan, signed in mid-season from Vipers SC raced into the box to connect to an Aziz Okaka and slam it into the roof of the net.

Almost immediately, George Amayo came inches close to playing the ball into his own net in an attempt to cut out an Okaka cross.

With the heavens opening up in the final 15 minutes of the game and the pace dying down, Bidco seemed to have found some renewed strength.

They dumped balls into the AFC Leopards box and one such found Juma who nodded home from a Luvualu cross.

AFC Leopards will now meet National Super League side Wazito FC in the quarter finals.