NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – Substitute Jacob Keli scored a second-half header against his former side KCB to salvage a 1-1 draw for AFC Leopards in their first leg of KPL Top 8 semi-final at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Wednesday.
Andrew Murunga opened the scoring in the 25th minute before Keli grabbed his second goal of the season to level the scores in the game where both sides ended with 10-men.
Sosthenes Idah was the first culprit after receiving a second yellow card before Leopards midfielder Musa Mudde followed suit in the second-half for the same reasons.
“The boys played well and according to our strategy but I have the problem with time, the referee since he played 82 minutes and that wasted us a lot. Mudde’s red card did not affect me since I went on with my strategic tactic.
“This is my first trophy that I want to win with Leopards because I struggled to qualify to the tournament when I was at KCB and I’m confident we will perform well since players are aggressive,” Leopard assistant coach Abdallah Juma who was managing his last game as the man reported to take over, Briton Trevor Morgan watched from the stands declared after the match.
On his part newly appointed KCB coach Rashidi Shedu, said, “I’m very happy because getting a draw from a team like Leopards is not easy. We had planned not to concede but through set piece lapse in defence they equalised but I achieved what I wanted.
“Idah’s red card really affected us because at no time do a team train with 10 players so we didn’t expect it. For those few minutes it was anxious for us but for now were are focusing on our next KPL match where we want to make sure we win the four games because if we slip again the gap will widen and that will make the second leg difficult for us,” Shedu stated.
The Bankers made three changes to the team that lost 2-1 to Ulinzi Stars on Saturday starting with keeper Sammy Okinda, forwards Tirus Omondi and Francis Ouma while Leopards made only one preferring midfielder Oscar Kadenge in the first X1 replacing Keli who was relegated to the bench.
Ingwe who were at home started with intent with Harambee Stars forward Allan Wanga, winger Paul Were and Kadenge being instrumental in the first 10 minutes.
Wanga came close in the third after tapping Juma Abdallah free-kick from outside the box but Okinda was at the right position to deal with it before picking Kadenge’s hard shot.
Wanga could have opened the scoring in the 17th but he wasted Were’s cross from the right flank after his back hill went wide.
Ingwe continued to pile pressure on the bankers with captain Martin Imbalambala
Unleashing a thunderous shot after Okinda spilled Kadenge’s cross only to see his effort blocked by defenders.
The visitor’s first chance came in the 25th and they did not waste it with former Tusker FC forward Murunga heading far post from Idah’s long range free-kick as Stars custodian Wycliffe Kasaya haplessly watched the ball roll into the net to beak the deadlock.
The goal provider Idah was sent off for a second book-able offence on a hard tackle to Kadenge as Okinda once again rescued Were’s powerful header to lead by a solitary goal at the breather.
Shedu pulled out Francis Ouma in the last half, bringing in Bennedict Owuor to cover up at right back as Paul Kiongera played as the lone striker.
Were had a great chance to level in the 57th but Okinda pulled off a superb save to deny the winger who was later awarded the man of the match.
Shedu introduced Keli for Bernard Mang’oli and last season’s top score after attempted twice with Okinda once again rising to the occasion.
Referee Anthony Ogwayo, evened the players in the 72nd when he sent Ugandan Mudde to early shower after showing him the second yellow following an infringement on Michael Oyando.
Ingwe made good use of the opportunity to restore parity two minutes later through Keli who headed in Abdallah Juma’s free-kick to net his second goal of the season, having scored in their league opener against his former side to rescue Leopards then under James Nandwa.
Both sides will square it out in the second leg with the winner progressing to the finals.