NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 27- AFC Leopards youth team ‘Ingwe Cubs’ qualified for the Kenyan Premier League Under-20 Championship semi-final for the first time after hammering Bandari 5-1 in the quarter finals played at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on Tuesday morning.
In the early kick off, defending champions Mathare United progressed to the semis for the second consecutive time with a hard fought 2-1 win over 2011 champions Western Stima
“We are very happy qualifying for the last four for the first time ever because from the beginning this is what we had targeted. We improved on our defense which was a weak point and I am glad with how we performed today. The only stop for us now is the final,” Boniface Ambani, the Ingwe Cubs head coach told Capital Sport after the match.
His opposite number Wilson Oburu, who is also the senior team first choice keeper was gracious in defeat.
“This is the first time as a team we qualified for the quarters and despite small defensive mistakes that cost us today, I am happy with what we achieved throughout the tournament. We bow out heads up and when we come back next April, we will be a better side,” Oburu commented after the game.
Bandari lost against an experienced Leopards side which fielded first team players Harun Nyakha and goalkeeper Edwin Mukolwe with striker Vincent Oburu also in after being promoted to the senior side.
Bandari had a good start to the match and should have gone ahead in the 13th minute but Judea Otieno’s shot went against the crossbar with Mukolwe well beaten in the AFC goal.
AFC had their first chance in the 22nd minute with Mathew Kono wasting a glorious opportunity taking too many turns in the box with his final low shot being an easy pick for the Bandari keeper.
However they were rewarded for their resilience in the 27th minute when Brian Kipruto slotted home with a cool finish from a cross on the left.
They should have doubled their lead in the 37th minute but Oburu shot over and wide from close range after the Bandari keeper spilled a low shot from Austine Odhiambo on the left.
Odhiambo who was causing ripples on the right side of Bandari’s defense called in again a few minutes to the breather but this time his effort at clipping the ball over the advancing Bandari shot stopper was futile from a good switch of play from deep in defense.
In the second half, the Cubs took on the same gear and three minutes after the restart, Odhiambo finally knocked in his goal with the easiest of finishes, beating the keeper simply from an Oburu pass after the Bandari defense was too slow to react to a second ball from 30 yards out.
Oburu almost grabbed the fourth immediately after another defensive lapse but the keeper managed to keep out his shot with his feet.
Kipruto completed his brace in the 65th minute with another simple tap in after Odhiambo’s hard work from the left cutting back a cross which caught the entire Bandari side wrong footed.
Seven minutes later, Oburu got his name on the score sheet sending the ball into the bottom right from another of many Bandari defensive lapses
The coastal side pulled one back in the 85th minute through Ahmed Zube’s shot from the right after a short start to a corner. The corner came through after Mukolwe had made two great stops to deny John Avire and Musa Abbas.
AFC though wasn’t done with the party as they made it 5-1 at the stroke of 90 minutes, substitute Eric Kinuthia making minced meat of the Bandari defense for another clean finish.