NAIROBI, February 14 – New look AFC Leopards recovered from a goal down to salvage a point in their opening SportPesa Premier League match after settling for a 1-1 draw with Mathare United at Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.
In the early kick-off, former Gor Mahia forward Timothy Otieno scored twice to inspire Posta Rangers beat Muhoroni Youth 2-0 at the same venue.
Mathare under the tutelage of former Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi netted an early goal courtesy of Obadiah Ndege’s header in the second minute but Andrew Tololwa restored parity at the half hour mark to ensure both sides share spoils at the breather.
Kimanzi was content with the draw outlining that his charges will be composed in their next assignment.
“It’s a fair result because we created more open chances than them and I think for the first match of the season it’s not a bad start for the boys. We can work hard and push further.
“Sometimes it needs time to understand the strength of the player and as times goes we will be where we want to be,” Kimanzi stated after the match.
Leopards head coach Jan Koops said, “We are okay with the result. I complement the boys for the fighting spirit. Both sides had an opportunity to win the game. It was an interesting game.”
Leopards were a better side in the opening half, making Mathare goal keeper Robert Mboya the busiest as Ingwe enjoyed possession.
Dead ball specialist Noah Abich provided the opener with a grass cutter set piece that Ndege powerfully headed on the far left post for his first goal of the season.
Experienced defender George Owino came to Mathare’s rescue in the 17th minute when he cleared off the line to deny Simon Abuko who was rushing to tap home from a Lamin Diallo cross.
Mboya stood tall in between the sticks to stop Clifton Miheso’s free-kick before tipping over Tololwa’s ferocious shot in the 28th minute.
Tololwa made the amends two minutes later when he converted from the spot after Chispinus Oduor handled the ball in the box.
Tololwa had a chance to double the lead three minutes into the second half after Kepha Aswani picked him but the former Tusker FC forward rattled the woodwork.
Mathare opted to sit back and hope to break on the counter attacks but their strategy didn’t work as Ingwe piled more pressure upfront.
Abuko raced from the right to feed Diallo who controlled the ball before turning but his shot from close range missed the target by a whisker.
Last year’s midfielder of the year Eric Johana forced Leopards shot-stopper Lucas Indeche to a top-drawer save in the 75th minute from a long range cracker to see both sides share a point.