NAIROBI, July 11- Khalid Jumaan was the hero for AFC Leopards with the precious goal in their 1-0 victory over Ushuru FC for their second win on the bounce to pay back in kind their first leg defeat at the hands of the taxmen.
In the first of Saturday’s double header at Nairobi’s City Stadium, fellow giants Sofapaka were shocked by resurgent bankers, KCB who dispatched them 2-0 to atone for their last gasp 2-1 loss to Leopards on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, basement side Nakuru All Stars forced hosts Muhoroni Youth to settle for a thrilling 2-2 draw to wrap Saturday’s programme.
The biggest story though was Leopard’s gritty victory as the financially struggling giants who lost 13 players in the June transfer window continue to confound friend and foe under the tutelage of Croat head coach, Zradvko Logarusic.
Ingwe new boys were thrown to the deep end on Wednesday where former Sofapaka star, Patrick Kagogo’s last-gasp free-kick gave them maximum points to bring their campaign back on track after a bitter 1-0 loss to Thika United launched their second leg campaign on a sour note.
With the solid tax collectors dominating possession and piling on the pressure on both halves, Jumaan, who is fasting in the Holy Muslim month of Ramadan, completed a smash-and-grab victory when he scored the only goal from a header in the 29th minute.
Bernard Mang’oli brought in the set-piece that Jumaan, who was largely a bench player in the first leg, converted for his second goal of the season to lift Leopards third on the log in a game where suspect officiating in the KPL reared its ugly head again.
Despite Ushuru’s best efforts to level the match and five minutes of added on time, Ingwe held on for the three points that took them above Ulinzi Stars on the same tally of 31, 14 adrift of champions and table-toppers Gor Mahia.
“It’s big motivation to win two games in a row. I’m playing more and getting myself in the league. It’s not easy because I’m fasting and trying to play. It was a very tough game but at the moment, we are a bit down but with time, we will gel and do better.
“We wish the ones who left, we wish them well. We miss them but we have no choice but to play and win the match,” Jumaan who set a second finish as the realistic target for Leopards behind runaway leaders and archenemies Gor underscored.
“It was tough, it was scaring and I thank God the boys won. We were under pressure in the second half because the new boys have not got used to the way the coach wants to play. This is commendable.
“The exodus had given Khalid a life and he is having more time to play,” assistant Leopards boss, Yusuf Chippo held.
– Kenyatta incensed-
Ushuru boss and the last Leopards captain to lift the national title in 1998, Ken Kenyatta was left livid at the final whistle claiming his boys were robbed of victory or at least a share of the points by centre referee Raymond Onyango.
“KPL have to change, they are looking for two teams to compete in the league. It is making somebody feel like leaving football. I was denied two penalties in the first half; the goalkeeper is taking time to clear boys.
“We prepare teams; we do not come here to be intimidated. I have a good team that can beat anyone,” the fuming coach ranted after his side remained stuck on seventh following the defeat.
Earlier in the same stadium, last season’s runner-ups, Sofapaka remained 12 points adrift of the champions after failing to break into KCB’s vault with the bankers netting two unanswered goals to move up to 11th on 16 points and further away from danger.
Chrispinus Onyango, the young sizzling forward notched the double in the 20th and added time sandwiched between a 63rd missed penalty by John Odhiambo that would have settled matters much earlier against a Sofapaka side that looked a pale shadow of themselves.
All Stars improved to 10 points at the foot of the table after coming from 2-0 down to force a 2-2 draw in a result that could spark their great escape.
Muhoroni were coasting when Abass Akinyemi successfully converted a penalty in the 11th minute before All Stars were left reeling two minutes later when another veteran, Wycliffe Ochomo struck for 2-0.
Bebetto Lnamba pulled one back with ten to go in the second half and sensing blood, the table-propping side went for it and got the equaliser through Boniface Akenga on the stroke of full time.