Leopards regain its spots with hard-earned victory over battling Ulinzi
Jaffery Owiti and Marvin Omondi came off the bench to score for AFC Leopards, ending their four-match winless streak with a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Ulinzi Stars in Sunday’s Kenyan Premier League (KPL) clash held at the Thika Sub County stadium.
Oliver Rutto’s well executed free kick had restored hope for the soldiers after Owiti’s opener, but Omondi’s stoppage time goal changed everything to Ingwe’s reprieve.
Speaking to Citizen Digital shortly after the match, Leopards coach Robert Matano hailed his team’s spirited fight saying the win opens a floodgate for more wins.
“We are out of Caf-Confederation Cup and full focus is on KPL. There is a feeling amongst our fans that we should have done better in the continental competition, but coming back and winning against Ulinzi is a good starting point.
“I always tell them (players) it’s not done until the last whistle, and they have seen it, the three points were sealed in extra time,” charged Matano.
Despite being his second straight win over his former employers, Matano conceded the soldiers were a hard nut to crack.
“They had their good chances that would have given a different result had they converted them, but that’s football, its a game of chances,” he added.
Both sides struggled to settle with the ball in the early stages of the match, with a few chances coming including two cancelled goals.
Ulinzi had scored first before Ingwe netting, both goals being ruled offside.
Cliff Kasuti and Masita Masuta, former Nzoia Sugar marksman, proved dangerous to Ingwe’s defense, the latter setting up Churchill Muloma for the denied goal.
Leopards’ Ghanaian import Issac Oduro had his free kick pipped just over the bar before his compatriot Baker Lukooya effort left Ulinzi’s custodian Timothy Odhiambo gasping for breath after keeping it out.
Upon the restart, the first real chance to score came Ulinzi’s way but Daniel Otieno rattled the woodwork with the goalkeeper beaten.
Ulinzi sought more power up front, throwing into the fray Kevin Amwayi while Ingwe brought on Simon Mburu and Owiti.
Despite Ulinzi exhibiting some flashes of brilliant efforts, it was Owiti who would break the deadlock in the 65th, finishing off skillfully Brian Marita’s cross.
The lead was not to last long and Rutto made no mistake in hiding the freekick to the top right corner, far from Jairus Adria’s reach.
Ingwe saw another close shave in Oscar Wamalwa’s effort, hitting the cross bar with Adira completely off.
With everyone concluding the match was a 1-1 affair, Leopards, who drew against Posta Rangers in their league opener before sharing spoils with Madagascar’s FOSA Juniors home and away, Omondi capitalized on the opponent’s sluggishness to clear.
It was in the third minute of the added time, when he popped out of the forest of both teams players, in the goalmouth melee to shoot down the soldiers.