Football Football

Leopards claw Bandari as Derby Looms

AFC Leopards fans celebrate victory over Sofapaka FC. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya
AFC Leopards fans celebrate victory. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, March 2 – AFC Leopards warmed up for Sunday’s Mashemeji Derby with a victory following their 1-0 win over GOtv Shield champions Bandari in a mid-week SportPesa Premier League played under floodlights at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Leopards, who are in sensational form, were on the score sheet after two minutes of play when Kepha Aswani turned home Clifton Miheso’s delivery to welcome new head coach Ivan Minnaert with a win.

The triumph saw Leopards move to second on seven points, same as leaders Mathare United who have a better goal difference as they prepare to face their bitter rivals Gor Mahia in the first-leg of the Mashemeji Derby.

Coming from a 2-1 success over Sony Sugar, Ingwe was boosted by the return of midfielder Simon Abuko who missed one match due to injury.

Bandari on their part, made four changes from the squad that was held 1-1 draw by DRC’s St Eloi Lupopo in the CAF Confederations Cup return leg with David Gateri, Humphrey Okoti, David King’atua, Dan Sserunkuma and Meshack Karani drafted in the starting line-up.

Andrew Tololwa was instrumental for Leopards up front in the first-half that could have seen the 13-time champions double the lead three minutes to the breather through the former Tusker FC forward, but Bandari keeper Wilson Obungu rescued his ferocious shot.

Tololwa, who is Leopards’ top scorer with two goals, had fluffed an open chance in the 10th minute after shooting wide with only the keeper to beat before Obungu warded off Katerega’s long range screamer.

The Dockers found their feet at the half-hour mark, pressing for the equaliser but Gateri blazed over from outside the area before former Leopards right-back Edwin Wafula rattled the cross bar.

Leopards suffered a blow in the second-half after Tololwa picked a knock to be replaced with Clement Mata.

However, that did not stop Ingwe from attacking with Abuko almost extending the lead when he was put through by Andrew Diego only for the midfielder to waste the opportunity with a powerful shot that went over the bar.

George Abege unsettled the defence in the 61st to find space and unleash a cracker but Leopards shot-stopper Lukas Indeche was up to the task to deny the former City Stars striker the leveller.

Indeche was at it again, this time pulling a glorious save to rescue King’atua’s effort after he had cut in from the right.

Edwin Lavatsa had two chances that could have snatched the point but he failed to utilize them, with his first attempt going wide before side netting to see Bandari pick their first loss of the season.