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Leopards show class and promise, climbing to top of table

ALLAN Wanga led the assault and also scored once as AFC Leopards took an emphatic 2-0 victory over a fighting Oserian at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Leopards jumped to the top of the Kenyan Premier League table, albeit on goal difference over Sofapaka, after a performance of glorious entertainment no doubt going to spark bigger “Ingwe” following in the coming fixtures.

Oserian were worthy opponents and only the pedigree of Leopards, who clearly bore a title contender tag, dampened the Naivasha team’s efforts. Mike Baraza came on in the 61st minute to score the second for Leopards in the 77th minute.

Sofapaka halted early pace setters, Sony Sugar, with a 1-0 defeat at Gusii Stadium in Kisii. At the summit with seven points each, Leopards’ goal difference of four precedes Sofapaka’s of two.

Thika Stadium continued to prove the bogey team of Ulinzi Stars, who again led before succumbing to Thika United’s rally for a 2-2 tie.

Nervousness and too much wild use of the ball marked the clash between Nairobi City Stars and Karuturi Sport that preceded the AFC v Oserian delight.

Too many players lacked accuracy and initiative, the series of unforced errors inevitably causing a dour 0-0 draw.

AFC Leopards 2 Oserian 0

When AFC Leopards made the breakthrough with Allan Wanga’s stylish header in the 22nd minute it was confirmation of the edge they had over Oserian in spirited play.

Wanga and hyperactive Ugandan pace-man Jimmy Bageya had kept the attacking pressure on the Oserian defence and most affected was goalie Enock Obong’o.

The ‘keeper had been troubled by a ball that almost let in Bageya to score in the sixth minute. It was indeed Obong’o’s blunder that indirectly led to Wanga’s opener.

The Oserian ‘keeper could have taken in his hands a slow harmless ball coming into his goal area but when he sloppily tried to control it with his feet it trickled out for a corner.

When the corner from the right was eventually saved by the Oserian defence, and booted to the midfield, Charles Okwemba made a lightning counter on the right flank, brilliantly dribbling past two defenders, both of whom fouled him. The second ended with a yellow card caution and conceding of a free-kick.

Salim Khamis swung the ball in from 35 yards and Wanga, unmarked in the six-yard box, rose magnificently above everyone else, his classical header powerfully directing the ball past a hapless Obong’o.

It was marvelous to see Oserian refuse to lie down and die. And thrilling too, to see men like John [Kio] Kabui, a lowly journeyman through several clubs in the last half a dozen years, taking up captaincy and a key role inspiring Oserian’s midfield play.

Other new arrivals at Oserian who played like veterans of the team were ex-Karuturi man Tom Onyango and ex-AFC Leopards defender Franklyn Osama.

But it was Wanga who was again to miss golden chances in the 50th minute and the twice within the 57th minute. Obong’o was in all sorts of trouble in the goalmouth scrambles that took the ball to safety.

But Oserian never shied at attempting responses to whatever was thrown at them. Indeed the busiest man at the Leopards defence was the man in the middle, ex-Karuturi Amon Muchiri, making his first start for the new club in the absence of Jonas Nahimana who flew to Kigali to take up Rwandan national team drafting.

Oserian’s best chance fell to replacement Tyrus Ojuki, five minutes after coming on in the 61st. He approached the box from the left and with clear space he could only direct his left foot shot to the side netting.

Leopards were still very dangerous and confident on the ball and the question was why they only had a 1-0 lead. And Coach Jan Koops had the luxury of having such class players as Oscar Kadenge, Francis Chinjili, Victor Ochieng’ and Baraza, before he came on in the 61st minute.

Koops had a calm view of his team’s performance from the bench and the bringing on of Baraza -- for midfielder Charles Okwemba -- into the attack with Wanga and Bageya was perhaps just to show that Leopards could shift a gear up if they so wished.

Indeed, and Baraza’s goal was a beauty.

From 40 metres out on the left, the Bageya timed it perfectly to put the ball into the box for Baraza who was left to merely side-step the on rushing ‘keeper Obong’o and then drive with his sure left into an empty net.

TEAMS:

AFC LEOPARDS - 1. Patrick Matasi: 5. Edwin Baraza Wafula, 3. Abbassi Kiwalabye, 4. Martin Imbalambala (captain), 14. Amon Muchiri, 22. Bernard Mang’oli, 10. Charles Okwemba (11. Mike Baraza, 61’), 18. Salim Khamis, 40. Eric Masika, 50. Jimmy Bageya, 9. Allan Wanga

Reserves - 19. Barnabas Tiema, Gk; 26. Robert Syongoh, 15. Francis Chinjili, 34. Victor Ochieng’, 7. Oscar Kadenge, 20. Shaban Ramadhan

Scorers - 9. Allan Wanga (22’), 11. Mike Baraza (77’)

Coach - Jan Koops [The Netherlands]

* * * *

Referee - Davies Omweno

Assistant ref - David Otiang’a

Asst ref - Mike Mwangi

Reserve ref - Damaris Kimani

Match Commissioner - Aloise Odhiambo

Nairobi City Stars 0 Karuturi Sports 0

This was a match of teams matched in ability and [blurred] ambitions. It was the players who must have been left asking themselves whether they really cared enough to play purposely, day-in, day-out for the rest of the season.

How could there possibly have been so many mistakes and so much deficiency in the performance of virtually every single player.

City Stars’ striker, Dan Serunkuma isn’t a totally hopeless man. And the Ugandan showed a few movements that confirmed he is actually a cut above the mediocre players in the league. Ayuko himself was a poor performer and was panicky the whole afternoon, save for stopping Serunkuma’s goal-bound shot and George Mwangi’s re-bound, in the last action of the match.

Poor ball touch, meaningless direction of passes and lacking in creativity was the hallmark of the game and some of the guiltiest men were City Stars’ veteran Francis Thairu, who really is misfit as a striker.

Thairu, the team’s previous inspiration deep in the middle of the park, not for the first time in a new role this season, showed lack of pace, sense or strength to stand up to the challenge.

Thairu’s initial involvement was disaster; almost tripping over the ball under no pressure inside two minutes, ball being stolen from his feet in 13th and generally lacking in correct positioning.

Youngster David King’atua, now with play-making responsibilities for City Stars in the middle of the park was too wayward with his passing, too.

Nevertheless, City Stars could still have nicked a 68th minute goal through substitute George Mwangi who powerfully shot wide.

Jacob Omondi, Mohammed Mwachiponi and Allan Otindo, the Karuturi strike force did little justice to midfielder Kennedy Oduor who did all he could to provide good possession.

TEAMS:

NAIROBI CITY STARS - 30. Peter Odhiambo: 18. Arthur Museve, 16. Joel Ssebuliba, 8. Dennis Okumu, 25. Peter Ashango, 3. Nicholas Ochieng’, 11. Oscar Mbugua (captain), 20. David King’atua (27. George Odary, 72’), 10. Silas Aluvisia (27. George Mwangi, 56’), 7. Francis Thairu (2. Alex Achoki Nyamweno, 76’), 12. Dan Serunkuma

Reserves not used - 23. Frederick Majani, Gk; 13. Victor Okullu, 29. Mark Ongwae, 17. Boniface Onyango,

Coach - Gideon Ochieng’

KARUTURI SPORTS - 1. Noah Ayuko: 16. Titus Wamalwa, 3. Andrew Mbwabi, 30. Yusuf Siruma, 31. Mustafa Ogutu, 13. Abdulrahman Yusuf (19. Gerard Mukodza, 79’), 29. Benjamin Oketch, 11. Mohammed Mwachiponi (17. Geoffrey Msiebe, 47’), 7. Kennedy Oduor, 8. Jacob Omondi , captain (32. Thomas Biketi, 90+’), 10. Allan Otindo

Reserves not used - 25, Michael Wanyika, Gk; 2. Jeff Odongo,

Coach - Michael Nam

* * * *

Referee - Raphael Nduati [Thika]

Assistant ref - Mary Njoroge

Asst ref - Oliver Ouma

Reserve ref - Stephen Muko

Match commissioner - James Theuri

Sony Sugar 0 Sofapaka 1

John Baraza score in the 40th minute, his second of the season, to halt Sony Sugar at the Gusii Stadium.

Sony had been the only team with two wins out of two in the season.

Thika United 2 Ulinzi 2

Evans Amuoka, after four minutes and Wycliffe Ochomo [22nd] had visiting Ulinzi racing to a 2-0 lead at the Thika Municipal Stadium but the jinx returned to haunt the Ulinzi who could only go home with a point.

Kepha Aswani hit back in the 24th minute and Francis Kahata levelled in 75th minute.

FIXTURES:

Sunday:

3.00pm: Muhoroni Youth v Chemelil [Muhoroni]

Wednesday:

[2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier]

4.00pm: Kenya v Togo [National Stadium]







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