THEY never respect lessons learnt in the Kenyan Premier League, do they; that there is only so much the whipping boys are prepared to take? This time, leaders AFC Leopards apparently took no heed and were embarrassed in a 2-0 defeat by lowly KCB at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Can any of the so-called “big teams” make a real impression and consistently dominate in the Premiership? If Leopards, amid the pride of being unbeaten stretching back to May 16, could not shrug off KCB, surely no one can.
It’s, therefore, back to the normalcy in the Premiership that you can neither pay too much respect to those in the lead, nor show contempt for those in the lower rung.
Former Leopards skipper Peter Mwangi Wainaina and Mungai Kiongera had KCB up 2-0 at half time, and for many of Leopards fans, in utter disbelieve and dismay, there was a sickly feeling the rest of the match that their team would not come back. It did not.
At Thika Municipal Stadium, Thika United struggled but edged Karuturi Sports 1-0 and now the fourth-placed United can hang on, staying in the title hunt on the home stretch.
On Monday another battle of title chasing teams looms, champions Tusker taking on the previous year champions Ulinzi Stars at the National Stadium, kick-off 7pm.
AFC Leopards 0 KCB 2
In the opening skirmishes it was Leopards who made the forays, a returning Paul Were being full of flight up front and took a bit of muscle to stop in the second minute.
Defender Jonas Nahimana was to use the long ball to find Mike Baraza but the veteran just came short of reaching the excellent opportunity.
Then with a burst of confidence, KCB fired the first salvo in the fourth minute, Wainaina’s first booming attempt at the Leopards goal finding Patrick Matasi with a block. Clifford Alwanga knocked it back to Wainaina whose second chance the ‘keeper could do nothing about.
In another long spell, the bankers were making confident moves, passing around well, the tone set by a fearless midfield of Wainaina, Alwanga, Brian Osumba and Kiongera. They dared Leopards to come out and fight.
Kiongera was to score the second after running in space, evading Nahimana to receive from Osumba and beat Matasi in the 42nd minute for 2-0.
Caleb Adola had done well to save the bankers several times, particularly from Were (21st minute), Baraza (24th) and again from the boots of Baraza in the second minute of the added time in the first period.
Having dominated possession in the opening half, the bankers again got off stronger, looking dangerous in all the 15 minutes of the re-start.
Alwanga unleashed a long one from 30 metres in the 52nd minute, flying just over the bar.
Things were not working for Leopards and Jan Koops wrung changes, bringing in Jimmy Bagaye for Victor Ochieng’ and Laurent Tumba for Floribert Ndayisaba. He was desperate for something different. Amon Muchiri also stepped in for another unproductive midfield man Bernard Mang’oli.
But KCB demonstrated too much hunger, not only for a win but to give a bloody nose to the more illustrious Leopards.
The bankers were literally savouring the opportunity to exhale. Their erratic play, producing only two wins in the previous 10 matches had left them flirting with the relegation zone.
Coach James Otieno’s job was threatened.
He continually told his employers that things do happen in football and getting the Leopards scalp at a most unexpected time may prove that the coach was actually right.
AFC LEOPARDS - 1. Patrick Matasi: 5. Edwin Wafula, 46. Idrissa Rajab, 17. Jonas Nahimana, 4. Martin Imbalambala (captain), 22. Bernard Mang’oli (14. Amon Muchiri, 67’), 10. Charles Okwemba, 18. Floribert Ndayisaba (8. Laurent Tumba, 58’), 34. Victor Ochieng’ (50. Jimmy Bagaye, 57’), 44. Paul Were, 11. Mike Baraza
Reserves not used - 19. Barnabas Tiema (GK), 3. Abbasi Kiwalabye, 7. Oscar Kadenge, 2. Edward Seda,
Coach - Jan Koops [The Netherlands]
KCB - 22. Caleb Adola: 13. Bethuel Warambo, 25. Benedict Owuor, Dennis Omondi, 4. Joseph Kangata (captain), 14. Michael Oyando, 8. Brian Osumba, 15. Peter Wainaina Mwangi (3. Milton Milimo, 79’), 20. Geoffrey Maina, 20. Geoffrey Maina (6. Elvis Ayany, 57’), 5. Mungai Kiongera (9. Jacob Keli, 89’), 18. Clifford Alwanga
Reserves - 1. Sammy Okinda [GK], 23. Pius Adriano, 17. Duncan Makori, 7. Edwin Mwaura
Scorers - 15. Peter Mwangi Wainaina (5’), 5. Mungai Kiongera (42’)
Coach - James Otieno
* * * *
Referee - Nasur Doka
Assistant ref - Mary Njoroge
Asst ref - David Sagero
Reserve ref - Damaris Kimani
Match commissioner Evans Omosa
Thika United 1 Karuturi Sports 0
A desperate Thika United kept prodding the Karuturi defence and almost took the whole match, the winning goal coming with only a minute on the clock.
Kepha Aswani rode up to be fouled 40 metres out by Mustapha Mohamed. When Clifton Miheso stepped up to take the free kick, it was a splendid one, flying all the way to beat Karuturi veteran Noah Ayuko in goal.
Fourth placed but having played one match more , Thika United are six points behind leaders AFC Leopards who have 44.
RESULTS & FIXTURES:
Mathare United 2-2 Gor Mahia
Sony Sugar 2-0 Western Stima
Rangers 0-1 Muhoroni Youth
Sofapaka 1-1 Chemelil
Oserian 1-0 Nairobi City Stars
AFC Leopards 0-2 KCB
Thika United 1-0 Karuturi Sports
7.00pm: (2)Tusker v (5)Ulinzi Stars [National Stadium] * TV
3.00pm: (6)Gor Mahia v (16)Oserian [City Stadium] * TV
7.00pm: (2)Tusker v (1)AFC Leopards [National Stadium] * TV
3.00pm: (6)Gor Mahia v (5)Ulinzi Stars [City Stadium] * TV