NAIROBI, April 20 – Despite trailing leaders and arch rivals Gor Mahia by five points, AFC Leopards head coach Zradvko Logarusic believes he will steer the 13-time champions to their first Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title in 17 years.
Leopards who have played a game more than champions Gor dropped to seventh on 12 points after suffering their second loss courtesy of a 1-0 defeat to Ushuru FC, but the Croat was upbeat they will bounce back.
Logarusic was forced to change his game plan against a resilient Ushuru side after three dependable charges; goalkeeper, Wycliffe Kasaya, midfielder Bernard Mang’oli and defender Martin Kiiza limped off with knocks.
The replacements, Ezekiel Seda, Joel Bataro and winger Noah Wafula could do nothing to inspire a Leopards side that created more chances in the first half against the taxmen who had custodian, Samuel Odhiambo to thank after making a series of saves to keep them in the game.
With right back Edwin Wafula missing the game through suspension following a red card picked against KCB as well as unused substitute Joseph Shikokoti, the Leopards defence was put to test by hard pressing Ushuru who finally managed to break through in the second-half from unmarked Allan Kateregga’s brilliant goal.
“This was our third game in seven days we know we are not fit. We were limited with substitutions because we were forced to do two in the first-half. It was unfortunate the players whom we brought on could not change the game.
“The last 20 minutes we were unfit but game by game we will be alright; this is our seventh game and we have two loses so let’s go five games without defeat,” Logarusic who lost after frustrating Gor in a 1-1 stalemate last weekend declared.
Ingwe face Tusker on Saturday in a fixture where both sides need maximum points to keep their hopes of reclaiming the title alive.
– Unbeaten start –
At the City Stadium, K’Ogalo for once this season failed to find the back of the net after last season runner-up, Sofapaka forced them drop two points for the second successive game in a goalless draw.
Going by Gor’s good start, things did not turn their way against a Sofapaka side that begun the season on a low by losing 2-1 to the champions in the DStv Super Cup.
Despite the outcome K’Ogalo maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign in the ill-tempered clash that had few chances.
The attacking combination of Rwandan import, Meddie Kagere, Michael Olunga and in-form Ali Abondo could not bear any fruits even after splitting Sofapaka’s defence on several occasions as keeper David Okello stood tall in between the sticks.
Batoto Ba Mungu were more confident in the second half but despite Gor keeper Boniface Oluoch doing his best to stop the likes of Ekaliana Ndolo and Fiston Abdul Razak, a section of the Green Army ran out of patience forcing a seven-minute stoppage in the 74th minute when they threw objects on the pitch that struck the latter.
The ugly scenes were an echo to the skirmishes that marred their previous league encounter in Machakos when Sofapaka prevailed 3-2 over the champions at the back end of last season.
Trouble started when referee Rafael Ndwati booked both Razak and Gor’s centre-half Dikir Glay after they were involved in a scuffle as Sofapaka moved to within four points of the champions at the top.
K’Ogalo play Ushuru next while Sofapaka take on KCB on Sunday.
The biggest beneficiaries of the weekend were Ulinzi Stars who picked their second successive win in their 3-1 victory over Nakuru All Stars to move up to second on 16, one shy of Gor.
Ten-time champions Tusker rallied from a goal down to stymie their three-match winless run in their 3-1 triumph over Western Stima who dropped to fourth.