NAIROBI, May 12 – AFC Leopards leapt back to fourth on the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) tree after Jacob Keli emerged the hero with the winner in a 2-1 win at Bandari as Ulinzi Stars and Chemelil Sugar played out a barren draw on Tuesday.
Uganda Cranes midfielder, Musa Mudde gave Leopards the lead just after restart from a long range thunderbolt in Mombasa but David King’atua pegged them back in the 56th through a powerful header for the equaliser.
Ingwe went on the prowl and nailed their prey when Keli sealed their fifth win of the campaign 13 minutes later for his seventh goal of the season to join leading scorers, Gor Mahia’s Ali Abondo and Ulinzi Stars’ John Makwata.
The win was Leopard’s second on the bounce as their claws landed on 18 points, one behind placed Thika United who have a game in hand.
Leopards head coach Zdravko Logarusic made a single change from the side that mauled Sony Sugar 5-1 with Duncan Otieno replacing Joseph Shikokoti in midfield.
In a balanced goalless opening half, Ingwe squandered three opportunities, the first falling to Noah Wafula who wasted a Mudde pin point pass with a feeble strike that did not raise even a speck of sand in Bandari custodian, Wilson Obungu’s eyes.
Wafula spurned another chance after shooting direct to Obungu when the Ugandan midfield dynamo once again put him through on goal before Abdallah Juma’s long range shot extended the dock men’s keeper who kept it out.
The visitor’s keeper, Wycliffe Kasaya was troubled twice by the hosts, rescuing King’atua’s free-kick a minute after denying George Abege who was set through by David Gateri.
The Dockers were forced to do an early substitution, withdrawing injured Andrew Waiswa for Mohammed Shariff.
It took only a minute after a deadlocked break for Mudde to take responsibility and open the scoring with an 18-yard cracker that beat Obungu for his first goal of the season.
King’atua threatened an equaliser with a scorching effort that was thwarted by Kasaya who saved the 40 yards bullet as Logarusic introduced Nigerian Import Austin Ikenna for the ineffectual Michael Khamati.
Twahir Muhiddin pulled out John Ndirangu for Shaban Kenga in the 51st, and from the restart former City Stars attacking midfielder, King’atua restored parity when he headed past Kasaya for his third goal since joining the coastal side.
Logarusic fortified his midfield when he substituted Wafula for Ezekiel Seda in the 61st and the changes paid after Leopards piled on the pressure on Bandari and Keli duly crowned the siege with the winner.
The Dockers suffered a second successive loss to remain 11th on 13 points.
The league continues Wednesday with Tusker FC hosting Mathare United at Ruaraka Ground as GOtv Shield champions Sofapaka travel to second placed Thika United.
In Nakuru, Robert Matano’s soldiers missed the chance to claim third out right when they failed to subdue the obdurate Chemelil in a result that left the hosts fifth.