Brave Leopards fall at final hurdle


VICTORIA-CUPNAIROBI, Kenya, June 4 – A heart breaking late winner saw gallant AFC Leopard’s brave Cecafa Nile Basin Cup run fall at the final hurdle when they were edged 1-2 by Ugandan outfit, Victoria University Wednesday night in Khartoum in a tense encounter.

Both teams came with imposing records in their run to the decider, with the first victor’s of the regional second tier club showpiece having not conceded whilst Leopards were yet to lose.

Victoria took the lead in the 28th through Matthew Odongo in the 28th minute before Nigerian import Austin Ikenna levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time.

With the match destined to extra time, Mutyaba Muzamiru struck a cruel winner for Leopards when he left fly a delightful free-kick in the 88th that nestled at the back of the net to settle the contest against the more fancied Kenyans to bag the USD 30,000 (Sh2.6m) top prize as the losing finalists took home USD20,000 (Sh1.75).

Leopards head coach Hendrik Pieter De Jongh started with midfielder Charles Okwemba and Ikenna in place of winger Noah Wafula and Bernard Mang’oli who were sent off in the semi-final, with stand in captain Paul Were retained up front.

The Students could have opened the scoring after eight minutes with a header that went inches over the cross bar.
With Leopards trying to settle in the game, midfielder Jackson Kibirige was instrumental for Victoria with his passes that saw their forwards make runs in the wings, managing to break through Ingwe’s back four for Odongo to break the deadlock.

Keeper Patrick Matasi had to rescue his charges on several occasions with their chance coming close in the 42nd through Ikenna but the Nigerian saw his open header go wide from Were’s corner.

His efforts effort was paid moments later when he fired home in the first minute of added time as both sides shared the spoils at the breather.

Defender Abdalla Juma could have doubled the lead for Leopards with quarter an hour left to the final whistle when he made a good run in the left, but was denied by the keeper who punched his shot for a fruitless corner.

The game seemed to head to extra time after both sides held on but Ingwe conceded the second goal in the 88th from a well taken free-kick at the edge of the box by Muzamiru to beat Matasi to seal the victory.

Leopards returned home Thursday morning to a raining capital Nairobi as they prepare to face their archenemies, Gor Mahia on Sunday in an explosive Kenyan Premier League derby, hardly the kind of fixture they desired to lick their wounds.