Coaches fume as Leopards edge Thika, Ulinzi rout Mathare
AFC Leopards and Thika United tacticians exchanged turns to launch dissimilar protests at the end of a closely contested Kenyan Premier League (KPL) clash at the Thika Sub-County Stadium that ended 2-1 in favour of the visitors.
English Head Coach who has now led Ingwe to their fourth win of the season was far from impressed by the Stadium on which his side had broken a five-year winless jinx on Sunday, blasting its deplorable state as his counterpart James Nandwa blamed poor officiating.
“I cannot even feed my goats here, this is not a field to bring professional players. We just fought, we had a strategy to play ugly when we need to and smart when have to. It’s a win for us, when you get it away especially in such a pitch,” Hall told Citizen Digital.
For the Leopards, however, that ‘ugly’ win saw them continue to paint a stark image of the side they were last season when they almost got sucked down to the second-tier.
For Thika, it was their first home defeat with two of their previous other matches ending in their favour but while Nandwa blamed center referee for a wrong call that reduced his men to a man down, he admitted his charges were equally awful.
“Today we were not at our best, especially our defense. We made them (Leopards) appear so good but the referee also failed us. At this era where you are playing without live TV coverage officials can be bad to you if they mean it. Orchum deserved no yellow, leave alone red,” he lamented.
Their rivals Ulinzi Stars pummeled Mathare United 5-1 in the day’s other KPL fixture to retain their six-match unbeaten streak and move fourth.
Samuel Onyango had given the hosts a flying start when he scored with only five minutes gone before a quickfire Stephen Waruru brace saw put Benjamin Nyangweso’s men 3-0 after before the quarter-hour mark.
Derrick Onyango seemed to have given Mathare a way back but the visitor’s hopes were blown away late on as Daniel Waweru and Enos Ochieng put the seal on the rout.
At Thika, Ghanaian striker Gilbert Fiamenyo and former Mathare midfielder Whyvone Isuza delivered the goods for Ingwe as Salim Mzee pulled one back the hosts that finished the match a man down after Christopher Ochum was given the marching orders.
The hosts started on a high gear dominating procession in the first 20 minutes, with Onwuodi Chibueze, Eugine Mukangula and Shami Mwinyi coming close to score within quarter an hour .
Mwinyi lost his footing just before pulling the trigger outside the box in the sixth, before Chibueze shot wide in a goal melee.
Mukangula was denied by Robinson Kamura as he prepared to finish have been set up by skipper Dennis Odhiambo, with keeper Ian Otieno out line.
Ingwe’s backline, marshalled by Kamura soaked in the pressure, as the Stewart Hall men slowly grew into the game.
In the 35, Whyvone Isuza combined well with Ghanaian import Gilbert Fiamenyo who chipped in for the the opener from a tight angle on the left channel.
Fiamenyo should have made it 2-0 before half time, but Orchum did well to dispocess him just before he shot.
Immediately after the restart, Thika almost levelled matters through Chibuze who beat Mawira and Abwao only to shoot narrowly off target.
In the 49th, Kamura’s long range free-kick almost bore Ingwe the second, but Emase cleared off the line.
Nandwa sought to sharpen his attack by introducing Salim Mzee for Shami Mwinyi in the 51st, as the hosts continued dominating without fruition.
The match was momentarily stopped after Duncan Otieno and Khakhali Idah were involved in a scuffle, which invited other players and the technical bench into the fray.
Otieno had fouled Idah, who rose quickly and pushed him. Amazingly, none of the players was cautioned.
Whyvone Isuza capitalized on Thika’s defense miscommunication and sluggish reaction by Emase to slot in the second in the 59th.
Eugine Mukangula wasted a glorious opportunity to pull one back with only keeper Otieno to beat, after the latter had punched to his feet Chibueze’s shot.
Thika’s troubles were compounded when Orchum was given his marching orders in the 83rd for his second bookable offense of the match, against Kateregga.
While Ingwe thought it was over, Mzee shot past Otieno to make it 2-1 in the 87th.
Their push for a draw proved futile despite controlling proceeds to the end, handing Leopards their first win at Thika since 2012.