NAIROBI, Kenya, March 2- AFC Leopards 2-0 defeat to South Africa Premier Soccer League (PSL) side SuperSport United in their opening CAF Confederation Cup first round clash at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria was just reward for their chaotic preparations for the game.
David Mathebula struck in the 42nd for the opener before Bennett Chenene doubled the lead in 90th as Leopard’s defence crumbled to mirror the ineptitude displayed by the club’s administration in the run up to the away fixture that saw Leopards arrive in South Africa 24 hours before kick-off.
The avoidable defeat, SuperSport United doing little to suggest they were the superior side, has cast the spot light on the Allan Kasavuli-led management team as their hopes of progressing to the second round took a severe hit.
With the club drawing their opening two Kenyan Premier League (KPL) matches, hardly the form of title contenders, Ingwe officials must be called to account why the club is faltering despite huge outlay in securing players capable of giving any opponent a good go.
How the administrators bungled securing visas for their players on time and the absence of key midfielder, Peter ‘Pinches’ Opiyo whose passport was said to be withheld by an embassy are the two glaring failures that Leopard’s faithful need quick answers.
Head coach, James Nandwa admitting he had no clue about SuperSport United despite the fact their parent satellite pay television channel airs their games live and available for local viewing was stunning to say the least.
The Harambee Stars assistant who led the club to GOtv Shield victory to secure their entry in the Confed Cup does not inspire confidence with speculation about his future in the side and the appointment of former head coach, Robert Matano, as the technical director adding to the pressure mounting on him to deliver.
The Tuesday PSL match between SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits was aired live last Tuesday, a perfect opportunity for Nandwa and the club’s technical unit to analyse their opponents before the encounter at least.
Despite having little time to acclimatize and feel the pitch following their late arrival Leopards started the game on attack mode with skipper Martin Imbalambala strike ruled out for offside.
Mike Khamati, could have opened the scoring in the fourth minute with his deflection shot that went for a fruitless corner. Matsatsantsa entered the tie pushing forward for early goals with Senegalese Mame Niang, coming close with his flying header that went straight to Ingwe keeper Wycliffe Kasaya.
Ugandan international Musa Mudde, was booked in the 12th after hacking down Lebogang Manyama, who was stretched off as the home team wasted the resultant free-kick.Khumalo Sibusiso, blasted wide as Mudde infringed substitute Bennett Chenene, at the left flank.
Jacob Keli, could have given his side the opener in the 31st but the 2013 KPL top scorer failed to head Mudde’s cross.
SuperSport continued to pile pressure on their visitors side and it paid in the 42nd when Mathebula, broke the deadlock with his powerful header that beat Kasaya to see his side enjoy 1-0 up to the breather.
On resumption, Leopards tried to level through Khamati but he blasted wide with Harambe Stars speedy winger Paul Were, bringing in a cross that found Keli in the box but defender Moeketsi Aupa, blocked his shot for a fruitless corner.
Ingwe reacted swiftly in the 62nd when captain Fransman Bevan, hacked down Were just at the edge of the box but defender James Situma, squandered the free-kick.
New signing Kasaya had to come for crucial rescue on several occasions denying Niang who tried to extend the lead with his low left foot shot, before punching over the bar Bevan’s header.
Chenene had a chance to double the lead in the 72nd after beating Situma and Imbalambala, but he fall inside the box hoping for a penalty that the referee waved play on.
With 10 minutes to full-time, Nandwa brought in Augustine Etemesi, for Were but could not combine well with Keli who blazed his strike in front of SuperSport keeper Williams Ronwen.
The host continued to expose Leopards defence with Doutie Sameehg, getting a chance to double for his side in the dying minutes but he failed to connect Niang’s cross from the right flank.
The Senegal forward was inspirational in the match when he provided a header that found Chenene in the box to beat defender Edwin Wafula, and score the second to seal victory in the 90th.
Leopards will now have to pick their broken pieces up and hope to silence the Pretoria team by at least 2-0 to force penalties when they host them in Nairobi for the return leg, to qualify for the second round of the continental second tie competition.
A repeat of the chaotic preparations for the second leg will only serve to diminish Ingwe’s standing as a team on the rise.