NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – AFC Leopards moved up to fifth place on the Kenya Premier League (KPL) standings after a 1-0 win over arch rivals Gor Mahia on Wednesday.Substitute Selenga Mangili broke the deadlock in the 84th minute in devastating fashion with a 20m shot to deliver the crucial win for Chris Makokha’s side.
“Today we fought. This is the hardest game we played. Now that we are ahead of them the focus now is to get to the top of the league,” said Leopards defender Martin Imbalabala.
‘Kogalo’ captain Julius Owino rued his team’s several opportunities to put the match to bed thanks to Leopards and Harambee Stars goal keeper Lawrence Webo who played the game of his life.
“We dominated the game and got several chances but we didn’t use anyone of them. AFC got that one chance and scored,” said Owino whose side had 54 percent possession as opposed to ‘Ingwe’s’ 46 percent.
As expected, the match was played at breakneck speed with Gor dominating the early exchanges and turning the Leopards’ area into a shooting gallery.
Webo was called into duty in only the second minute when tested by a long range shot from Gor ace George Odhiambo.
Odhiambo and Kevin Omondi on several occasions taking advantage of a porous Leopards’defence that struggled to deal with Gor’s incisive running through the middle of the park.
Omondi almost lit up the packed Nyayo National Stadium in the 40th minute when he gathered a pass from his midfield and turned the Leopards’ defence in and out but his effort is blocked by Webo who sends the ball over the bar.
On the stroke of halftime, Odhiambo lived to his nickname ‘Blackberry’ with sleek control of a cross into the penalty but again Webo came to his team’s rescue.
The second half was much slower than the first half a fact which played into the hands of AFC who started to gain ascendancy.
Omondi and Francos Ocholla had their moments to make Gor’s dominance count but Mangili’s goal proved to be the deciding factor.
The former Sofapaka striker gathered a long cross from deep inside his team’s half and beat the dithering Francis Akango to bury the ball in the net to send Leopards’ supporters into ecstacy.