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Leopards come from behind to beat Sofapaka

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AFC Leopards forward Kepha Aswani celebrating after scoring against Sofapaka.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

AFC Leopards forward Kepha Aswani celebrating after scoring against Sofapaka.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, April 9- Birthday boy Kepha Aswani and Simon Abuko scored a goal in either half as AFC Leopards came from behind to beat Sofapaka 2-1 in a SportPesa Premier League match played at Nyayo Stadium on Saturday on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Tusker FC were 2-1 victorious over Western Stima to maintain their top spot on 17 points same as Mathare United, who beat Sony Sugar 1-0.

Kakamega Homeboyz beat Nairobi City Stars 1-0 courtesy of Andrew Murunga’s lone goal.

Ingwe survived an early scare from bottom side Batoto ba Mungu, but they managed to shake off the scare and score twice.

They should have even won the game by double digits had they utilized their chances and coach Ivan Minnaert admitted after the match they never merited as much to pick all three from the game.

“Last weekend we lost three points from a situation which we did not deserve to lose. Today, we have picked three points from a situation we did not merit to. But that is football.

“I’m disappointed because again, we make good scoring chances but we don’t use them. We should have wrapped up this game in the first half,” Minnaert remarked after the match.

Sofapaka had a dream start and barely a minute into the match they were in the lead.

For a team that last won or went ahead first in February, the wild celebrations were expected.

Brian Nyakan came to the end of some suspect defending from AFC leopards after Yakub Ramadhan had failed to clear the ball away from Patrick Mugendi who had gone to ground in an attempt to control and shoot the ball.

Aswani, Ingwe’s leading scorer had two great chances to pull Ingwe back to the game but he fluffed both.

His first attempt was with a header from an Andrew Tololwa free kick in the second minute but Barnabas Tiema proved equal to the task with an easy pick.

His second chance was even easier, but he miscued his shot in the 6th minute from an Andrew Tololwa cut back.

He was allowed a second bite on the cherry after falling to the ground from the first miss but he slashed the ball wide.

He however made amends in the 13th minute, this time picking a header after Simon Abuko had nodded the ball back to the edge of the box from a deep Hedmond Mauda cross from the right.

Sofapaka were being quickly undone by the pressure exerted by Leopards, but luckily the latter hadn’t improved on their scoring.

John Baraza, holding forte for David Ouma, who was away with the national women team, was forced into an early substitution when Mugendi limped out injured and his place taken by Jackson Oketch in the 17th minute.

Pulling off one of their main threats going forward, Sofapaka’s ammunition was slowly being reduced. Tiema pulled off a superb save in the 20th minute to keep his side in contention, tipping away Aswani’s header after the former Thika United man had risen to connect to a Yussuf Juma cross.

On the half hour mark, the misfiring Leopards had back-to-back chances with Mauda’s shot from the right being blocked a few yards from the goal line with the keeper out while Tololwa’s follow up skied over the bar.

Losing myriad of chances and heading to the breather tied on goals, Leopards were expected to meet an enraged Minnaert in the dressing room if his body language on the touchline was anything to go by.

They came back with determination and went on creating chances.

Yussuf Juma’s free kick six minutes in was dropped by Barnabas Tiema at the edge of the six yard box, but luckily for him his defense swept the ball away from danger.

Minnaert then made a double change ten minutes in, Omune and Mauda paving way for Bernard Ongoma and Allan Katterega respectively.

The dreadlocked Ugandan winger made an immediate impact, taking on his markers on the right before he was brought down at the edge of the box but Juma’s effort from the free kick went straight to the wall.

Tiema then pulled off one of the best saves of the match in the 62nd minute when he punched away an effort from Tololwa, the former Mathare man having done well to create space for himself inside the box from an intelligent Miheso pass.

But Leopards didn’t have to wait for long to get into the lead, Abuko bouncing in a header unmarked at the far post from a decent Katterega cross from the left.

Ten minutes from time, Indeche tipped over a dangerous free kick from Robert Binja as Leopards managed to hold on to the single goal lead.

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