NAIROBI, Kenya, September 29- Ekene Umekwe scored a late equalizer to help AFC Leopards secure a 3-3 draw against Mathare United on Wednesday night.With both sides out of the running for the Kenya Premier League (KPL) title, caution was thrown to the wind as Nyayo National Stadium became the stage for scintillating counter attacking football and breathtaking goals.
“I’m happy with the way the game went because we got a lot of opportunities and we scored. I’m disappointed with the draw because concentration in defence was lacking,” said Mathare coach Salim Ali.
‘Ingwe’ coach Dino Kitavi also pinpointed wanting defence as his side’s undoing.
“There was that element of poor concentration but the team showed great will power to come from behind,” said Kitavi.
Mathare striker Andrew Tololwa lived up to his reputation for scoring early goals after putting the 2008 champions ahead in the sixth minute.
Miscommunication amongst the Leopards’ defence coupled by a poor headed clearance by Martin Mbalambala allowed Tololwa to give his side a 1-0 lead.
That was the spark that ignited Leopards’ attack which swept through the Mathare defence with relative ease.
‘Ingwe’ ace Demonde Selenga capitalized on one such attack in the 20th when he latched onto a cross from Joseph Okumu.
Selenga rounded the onrushing Mathare keeper Martin Musalia to calmly slot in the equalizer.
Mathare continued top throw themselves at Leopards’ goalmouth with stunning breaks of their own but their attacks fizzled out.
Ingwe’s second goal came eight minutes later after Mathare midfielder Joseph Nyaga was dispossessed by Mbalambala and in a blink of an eye the blue shirts were leading.
Okumu got onto the score sheet after latching onto a long cross down the centre of the field and launched a spectacular drive to put his side 2-1 up at half time.
The second half saw both sides return to the pitch with intent as goalmouth action took more precedence.
Dennis Nzomo tied the game for Mathare in the 48th minute after Leopards failed to deal with a corner.
The ball landed on the feet of Nyaga who drove a low shot into the packed penalty area for Nzomo to turn and blast the ball into the net.
Sensing blood, Ali introduced Kenya Under-20 captain Innocent Mutiso into the fray and his presence began to tell as Mathare continued to tear into Kitavi’s side.
It was not long before the yellow shirts found the net again through Simon Mburu from another corner to take the lead 3-2.
But the former champions were made to rue their defensive lapses in the 89th minute with another defensive blunder that put Umekwe in.