NAIROBI, April 18 – A second-half goal by Ugandan Allan Kateregga condemned AFC Leopards to their second loss of the season in a 1-0 reverse to Ushuru in a tight Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
In the early kick-off at the same venue, Sanneh Ebrima scored a brace to help Nairobi City Stars end a seven-match winless run and pick first victory of the season thanks to 3-1 triumph over KCB.
Skipper Oscar Mbugua opened the scoring for City whilst Raymond Murugi gave the Bankers the consolation.
The loss saw Leopards drop to sixth on 12 points same as Ushuru who climbed to eighth.
Ingwe head coach said lack of concentration at the defence cost them maximum points.
“We made individual mistakes at the back and we are missing Edwin Wafula who is suspended. We didn’t score today despite having chances that shows we miss Austin Ikenna upfront.
“It’s very hard to change winning team but the two early forced substitutions killed us because those whom we brought in didn’t give us impact,” the Croatian lamented after the match.
His opposite number, Ken Kenyatta was a proud man after beating Ingwe twice in three meetings since they were elevated to the top tier last season.
“I feel good to beat Leopards because I deserved to win. What I wanted is to play a game they don’t understand. I used players who have not played any match since the regular ones were caught up by fatigue.”
It was a balanced opening half but Leopards suffered blow when they were forced to make early substitution due to injury, pulling out midfielder Bernard Mang’oli for Ezekiel Seda and first choice keeper Wycliffe Kasaya for Joel Bataro.
With both sides entering the encounter from winning their previous matches, none of them could find the back of the net despite leopards getting three open chances as well as the taxmen’s a single chance.
Ingwe came off the block first, forcing Ushuru custodian, Samuel Odhiambo spill Timonah Wanyonyi’s well curled corner from the right but the former Tusker keeper recovered swiftly to rescue Martin Imbalambala’s close range shot.
Odhiambo did well to deny Leopards twice, stopping Fredrick Ndugwa header seconds before saving Emmanuel Ngama’s long-range ferocious shot.
In the 38th, veteran midfielder Charles Okwemba almost punished his former side through a powerful twisted header from substitute Allan Kateregga’s header-pass but Kasaya did well to stretch and tip over the bar before injuring himself in the process when he landed on his left arm.
Despite being attended for seven minutes at his goal-line by club’s team doctor, the instrumental shot-stopper could not continue as he limped off for Bataro to replace him in the fair first-half that ended goalless.
Leopards were forced to make their last substitution once again due to injury on resumption when Martin Kiiza picked a knock to be replaced by winger Noah Wafula.
Kenyatta introduced Mohammed Hassan for former Thika United forward Moses Arita in the 50th minute.
The changes saw Leopards pay tax five minutes later when Hassan set unmarked Kateregga a through ball and the Ugandan brilliantly finished with his left shot way beyond Bataro’s reach.
Ngama could have levelled matters in the 68th when Ushuru defender David Otieno lazily back peddled Musa Mudde’s long cross but the Burundian blazed wide with only Odhiambo to beat.
Kenyatta strengthened his backline, introducing former Leopards stopper Eric Masika for Obadiah Ndege as the taxmen held on to collect maximum points and win their second successive match.