NAIROBI, Kenya, February 10- AFC Leopards head coach, James Nandwa, is out to shut shop when his side takes a 2-0 lead to Ethiopia as he bids to secure passage to the CAF Confederation Cup first round in a fortnight.
Goals from captain Martin Imbalambala and new signing Jacob Keli in the 18th and 43rd minutes of the first half gave Leopards a 2-0 win over Ethiopia’s Defence in the first leg of their preliminary tie at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium Sunday.
“It’s a good team and they possess the ball well but we will work on how to handle them away. Today we played well since we attacked and it paid. They are good in midfield and forward but we need to take advantage of their poor defence and score many goals,” Nandwa said after the match.
On the other side, Defence coach, Gebremedin Hiyle, blamed the loss on his team failing to capitalise on the chances they created.
“We made silly mistakes after controlling the game for the better part of it, but unfortunately we did not make good use of the chances we created.
“We will have to change our tactics in the return leg and hope we beat them by three goals because we will be playing at home.”
Keli who scored the winning goal picked Were as the man of the match, saying he provided many assists.
“I’m happy to score my first goal at Leopards but we missed Allan Wanga and Noah Wafula, who are ruled out with injuries, I hope they will be back in the second leg to strengthen our team,” the top scorer in the domestic Kenyan Premier League last season added.
Mulualem Tilahun got the visitors going from kick-off with a strike that went just wide on the right side of the post.
Winger Were responded three minutes later when he cut into the box but was stopped by defenders for a corner that Edwin Seda headed goal wards only for keeper Yeden Kidane to save.
Harambee Stars right back, James Situma, could have opened the scores in the 16th through his powerful free-kick that forced Kidane to spill the ball before his defenders hacked clear.
Ferew Solomon then crossed from the right flank but there was no Defense teammate to tap home as the ball whistled across Leopard’s goal.
The hosts got the lead their possession deserved when Were crossed for Imbalambala to head in the opener.
The speedy winger was at it once again minutes later when he fed Seda with another pin point cross but he blasted wide and on the other end, Shemeles Tegegn, wasted a free-kick with the target in sight after his poor shot went straight into custodian Wycliffe Kasaya’s arms.
In the 25th, Ferew had an opportunity to equalise but failed to connect with Awel Abedala’s cross.
Oscar Kadenge forced Kidane to pull another save as Leopards poured forward and with two minutes to the breather, Keli extended their lead when he tapped in yet another Were delivery to give the GOtv Shield winners the cushion they needed at half time.
After the break, Imbalambala sought his brace in the 58th with a shot that was repulsed by Kidane with the Defence keeper also thwarting the marauding Were on a number of occasions.
The Ethiopians were presented with a chance to net an important away goal but Tilahun spurned a dangerous free-kick after Abdalla Juma fouled substitute Manaye Fantu just outside the box.
Kasaya, the new recruit from Sony Sugar, was called upon to punch away a ferocious shot from Fantu for a fruitless corner as the hosts held on to their lead.
Ingwe will play for at least a draw in the second-leg in Addis Ababa, to book a date with the winner between South African side SuperSport United or Gaborone United from Botswana.
SuperSport beat Gaberone 2-0 in their first leg played in Cape town, South Africa on Saturday.