FOSA Juniors rally to hold Leopards in Cup
AFC Leopards and FOSA Juniors will have all to play for in Madagascar as the two settled for a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega.
The visitors will carry a slender advantage into the second leg thanks to their crucial away goal yet Leopards will feel happy with the result after surviving a barrage of attacks.
Defender Yusuf Maingi had given the early lead before Rado Mbolasoa score in the 16th minute to restore parity.
Leopards were first to test their opposition when Ghanaian import Prince Papa Arko fired a low drive that was pushed out be goalkeeper Ramaratany Damien.
A minute later, his partner upfront Henry Uche tried his luck but the Nigerian’s shot went narrowly wide with Damien beaten at the post.
Juniors allowed Leopards a third shot on goal and this time the hosts would not miss as Maingi’s audacious cross-cum-shot from the half-way line bamboozled Damien for the opener.
The youthful defender who only joined in December from Kakamega High School had intended to pick out Arko whose attempt to go for the connection failed but did just enough to deceive the goalkeeper into going the wrong way.
That goal sparked the visitors into life and their frantic efforts to draw level paid off moments later when Mbolasoa capitalized on sluggish defending to make it 1-1.
Destabilized, Ingwe’s poor positioning was clear to see with Uche and Aziz Okaka dropping deep to leave Arko struggling to make any impact upfront.
Herisoa Santatra should have made it 2-1 for Madagascar’s domestic cup winners in the 38th, beating captain Duncan Otieno and rounding keeper Gabriel Andika only for his finish to be ruled out for offside.
Theire push the lead was unrelenting and this time it was Jean Yves guilty of missing a golden opportunity inside the area with only Andika to beat.
The home support, which included four Governors from the Western region, were growing impatient with underwhelming show from Ingwe and were already demanding early substitutions.
Wycliffe Oparanya of Kakamega County and his counterparts Sospeter Ojamong (Busia), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and Wilberforce Ottichilo (Vihiga) had grace the match which attracted good attendance.
Coach Robert Matano obliged, executing a double substitution as Okaka and Uche gave way for Collins Okoth and Ugandan Baker Lukooya respectively.
The pair, in their seven-minute spell before the break, brought much-needed composure in the midfield area where Juniors had been running them rugged.
Leopards began the second stanza with two quick attempts, both from Lukooya, after some good work from Victor Majid and Otieno to let him through.
Desperate for the winner, Matano tossed his last dice as he rested Whyvonne Isuza who had endured a dull afternoon and bringing on former Western Stima ace Ezekiel Odera.
Romario Baggio and Yves then missed clear cut chances in quick succession before Odera shot the ball directly into Damien’s hands in the 83rd minute.