NAIROBI, March 21 – AFC Leopards head coach, Zdravko Logarusic registered his first win since joining Ingwe in a laboured 1-0 triumph over Nairobi City Stars in a Kenyan Premier League (KPL) encounter at Nairobi’s City Stadium on Saturday.
In the televised first fixture at the same venue, KCB opened their goal vaults wide to hand Nakuru All Stars a 6-2 hiding as top flight action made a welcome return to pan African screens on SuperSport after a three-week blackout following the lifting of a High Court injunction against KPL on Monday.
However, the traditional giants Leopards who struggled last season were still the headline act especially after the celebrated Croat former coach of archrivals and champions Gor Mahia made the big switch to The Den in his first home encounter having drawn 0-0 on his debut away to bogey side Chemelil Sugar.
After a barren first half, substitute Jacob Keli headed home in the 69th minute to send thousands of Ingwe fans into jubilation as their traditional Isikuti drums raised the crescendo to toast the comeback of top flight action after a Football Kenya Federation obtained orders to stop the competition.
On the stands, they held banners ridiculing a rival faction who conducted trials under former head coach, Dutchman Jan Coops written in slang language Sheng, Tuko Ligi Soo, Wako Ligi Ndogo (We’re in the big league, they are in the small league) to add colour to the occasion.
The first half was cagey with both sides struggling to settle, but City Stars who had new faces in the team found their feet in the midfield to outdo Leopards’ anchormen Musa Mudde and Duncan Otieno.
However, City Stars keeper, Ronny Kagunzi, was the busiest in the first period where chances were at premium.
Logarusic made double substitution at the restart to give his attack more bite, with Keli coming on for Karim Ndugwa while Ezekiel Seda replacing the ineffective Otieno.
Leopards soon took control; piling pressure on City who resorted sat deeper waiting to spring on the counter.
Ingwe’s pressure finally paid when Abdallah Juma made a brilliant run from the left to float in a peach of a pin point cross that found Keli who made no mistake in tucking his header past Kagunzi with City’s defence beaten for the decider.
Leopards continued piling pressure in search of a second with Austin Ikenna, Keli and Emmanuel Ngama coming close as the Kawangware-based side proved to be obliging opponents by giving up the chase for an equaliser.
In the early kick off, KCB humiliated Nakuru All Stars 6-2 to register their biggest ever win in a match where the parsimonious side suddenly found their scoring boots against a woeful defence mounted by the poorest team last season that was returned from relegation following disagreement between KPL and FKF on promoted sides.
Yusuf Juma opened the goal spree in the 12th, heading home from a corner before Raymond Murugi doubled the win 13 minutes later when the visitor’s keeper Martin Lule, fumbled the ball in the box.
Ronald Musana widened the margin to 3-0 at the break when he let fly and found the top corner to all but deposit three points on the Banker’s 2015 KPL account.
Murugi grabbed his brace with David Seda and Kelvin Omondi completing the second half rout whileTeddy Siwa and Hilary Echesa found the back of the net for All Stars bizarrely at the last minute and added time to bring the score to 5-2 before the dramatic end of the goal-fest was rounded by KCB’s six.
Elsewhere, at the Thika Sub-county Stadium, Thika United suffered a 3-1 home loss to 2008 champions Mathare United with Eric Mata scoring twice.
Mata struck first at the quarter hour mark when he tucked in Noah Abich’s rebound but Kennedy Otieno cancelled the lead in the 39th after heading home from close range.
Mata reclaimed the lead at the stroke of half-time when he intercepted a pass to round the keeper and score in an empty net.
Daniel Mwaura sealed the win in the 75th as Stanley Okumbi’s charges bounced back from losing 4-2 to champions Gor in their season opener to collect three valuable away points.
At the Awendo Green Stadium, hosts Sony Sugar were held to a barren draw by Muhoroni Youth.
Gor will be seeking a third win on the bounce when they take on Chemelil Sugar as Sofapaka take on wounded seafarers Bandari in the pick of Sunday’s action.