NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5- A brace from new signing Masoud Juma and a superb solo effort from Ovella Ochieng gave Kenyan Premier League newbies Kariobangi Sharks a 3-2 win over AFC Leopards in a pre-season friendly match played at the Kasarani Stadium on Sunday evening.
AFC Leopards parading a new team from the one which played last season were punished for individual errors, and Sharks showed they will be no pushovers in their top flight debut season which begins on February 11.
“I think we played well in terms of tactics and structure and we only lost because of three individual errors. It was an encouraging display especially because we fielded two different teams in either half, giving a chance to 19 players to play,” AFC head coach Stewart Hall told Capital Sport after the match.
Hall paraded Leopards in a new 3-5-2 formation with new boys Salim ‘Shittu’ Abdallah and Robinson Kamura tucking in between old boy Yakubu Ramadhan. Andrew Tololwa and new signing Robert Ndung’u were employed as the right and left wingbacks.
Sharks also put in most of their new signings, Osborne Monday being the anchor in midfield while Bolton Omwenga recruited from Nzoia United plied the left side of defense.
Robert ‘Boban’ Mboya started in goal while former Posta Rangers man Cavin Odongo plied one of the wings with Massoud leading the attack.
“It was important to win such kind of a match and it shows that we are ready for the Premier League challenge next weekend,” William Muluya, the Sharks head coach commented after the game.
Typical of their style, Sharks built up from midfield with Monday taking the leadership role in midfield, doing well to dish out instructions ensuring the side never lost their team shape.
They posed the first threat in the ninth minute, Monday switching the ball to the right to Ovella whose cross was however too close to Gabriel Andika in the Ingwe goal. Odongo had a chance on the quarter hour mark after meeting a deep cross from Michael Bodo but his flick was wide.
Massoud who was always posing danger had two back to back chances in almost similar fashion. First, he cut in from the left and his right footed shot curled just wide of goal. In the second instant he did the same this time from the right and shooting on the left, the effort evading the target by inches.
Sharks were rewarded for their industrious start in the 28th minute, Massoud beating Andika at his near post after intercepting an intended back pass from Ndung’u.
Leopards however went level five minutes later, new signing Abdallah rising strongly to head in a corner from Allan Katterega. But right at the break, Sharks restored their one goal cushion, Ovella striking a superb swirling shot after dispossessing Marcelus Ingotsi in midfield.
In the second half, Hall introduced a new team that gave a run in to Ghanaian striker Gilbert Fiamenyo and 2011 KPL player of the year Anthony Kimani.
Fiamenyo who was signed last year but couldn’t be registered showed signs of his quality on the hour mark after dispossessing Mathare keeper Mboya of the ball, but his goal bound effort was cleared off the line by Geoffrey Shiveka.
Fiamenyo though got his goal in the 78th minute with a cool and composed finish, beating Mboya one on one after being picked out by a pin point Abwao pass from midfield.
An error from experienced keeper Ian Otieno however handed Sharks the win eight minutes from time, Massoud dispossessing the keeper of the ball and shooting into an empty net.
AFC Leopards will have one more friendly match on Tuesday before firming up their weak areas ahead of the league kick off.