MACHAKOS, Kenya, Apr 5 – AFC Leopards went top of the Kenyan Premier League standings after picking a point in a 0-0 draw with Ulinzi Stars in a catch up fixture at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Wednesday afternoon.
It wasn’t the best of matches by the two sides, probably after both came off tough fixtures over the weekend with the feet seemingly still fatigued.
From the team that won 2-1 against Nzoia Sugar on Saturday, AFC Leopards head coach Stewart Hall brought in youngster Marcelus Ingotse for the injured Paul Mungai Kiongera while his opposite number Benjamin Nyangweso made two changes from the team that won against Kariobangi Sharks.
He brought in Boniface Onyango for Churchill Muloma who started on the bench while Oliver Rutto started his first match this year coming in for the absent Omar Mbongi.
Ulinzi shot stopper James Saruni was the busier of the two keepers in the opening half with Ingwe looking more organized than the visitors who prior to the fixture had beaten them six times in the eight previous meetings.
Inside the opening minute, Leopards were gifted with their first opportunity when Rutto miscued a clearance header with the ball landing on Leopards striker Gilbert Fiamenyo. However, the burly Ghanaian could not get a shot on target.
Leopards were mainly exploiting Rutto’s left side as well as planting the ball behind the defense with an aim of using Ingotse and Allan Katterega’s pace to create chances.
In the 23rd minute, Saruni came off to claim one such lofted ball but was adjudged to have handled it outside the box. However, from a promising freekick position, Robinson Kamura struck the ball straight onto the wall.
Ulinzi did not seem to have tactically grasped their hold on the match with a huge gap in midfield which AFC maximized on with a three man personnel of Bernard Mang’oli, Whyvonne Isuza and Dancun Otieno.
Ulinzi had the first real chance in the 34th minute when Evans Amwoka broke the offside trap from a counter on the right, but his decision of trying to cut back the ball other than going for goal himself proved wrong as Salim Abdallah cut off the ball.
On the other end, Ingwe had a similar chance from a counter, but Ulinzi had Geoffrey Kokoyo to thank with the experienced 34 year old poking the ball off Fiamenyo’s feet for a corner after the Ghanaian had gone round Saruni.
At the start of the second half, both sides made changes. AFC Leopards brought off Ingotsi for Andrew Tololwa while Ulinzi brought off Stephen Ochollah for youngster Cliff Kasuti.
However, the two sides resorted to playing high balls which never dangerous as both sets of defenses are good in defending high balls. AFC had a chance on the hour mark when Mang’oli’s freekick was easily collected by Saruni.
Late on, substitute Kasuti had a chance with a header from the far post off a John Kago cross, but Ian Otieno spread himself well to thwart the effort.
On the other end, Fiamenyo’s thunderous shot was saved by Saruni with Rutto being at hand to clear the mess.