NAIROBI, April 18- AFC Leopards’ chances of earning a slot in the quarter finals of the KPL Under-20 tournament remained on course despite playing to a barren draw with Sofapaka at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on Monday.
The draw sees Leopards move four points at the summit while Gor Mahia are second with Sofapaka coming third while defending champions Western Stima trail the Pool.
Heading into the final group matches on Wednesday, Leopards will need at least a draw against Stima to book a last eight ticket while a win will guarantee them top spot in the group.
Sofapaka will be facing Gor needing nothing but a win to keep their last eight hopes afloat.
It was a balanced match and any of the sides would have picked all points with the chances created on either end.
Leopards knocked the door first in the 24th minute with Bruno Odhiambo’s stinging shot from the edge of the box deflected inches wide of goal.
Sofapaka’s first opportunity at goal was on the half hour mark through Vincent Agono whose shot from a freekick went straight to the leopards keeper Brian Bwire.
Ingwe had settled down into the game and managed to string passes together well and in the 34th minute, some good build up from the side almost earned them an equalizer but Brian Kipruto’s cut back from the left was cut out by the Sofapaka defense for a corner.
Sofapaka were the better side in the second half and two minutes after the restart, Substitute Dahir hakim who had just come on had a shot fly a few inches over the bar.
Magonya Dayo also had a decent chance from a freekick, striking the effort well but Bwire proved equal to the task with a full stretched save.
In the 53rd minute, Kipruto had a shot blocked after Jack Bruno back-heeled the ball for him.
Sofapaka continued to pile the pressure, using the speed of Christian Aviero on the left but Leopards remained strong in defense.
On the hour mark, they should have punished Leopards on the counter but Michael Oduor’s control inside the box from a Stanley Githinji cross was too heavy allowing the Ingwe defenders to clear the danger.
In the final few minutes of the match, Leopards raised the tempo and Jack Bruno had three decent chances from free-kicks, his first hitting the crossbar and two more forcing the Sofapaka keeper to good saves.
Heading into the final group matches, Sofapaka will be eying a win and head coach John Baraza is confident they will net the three points to push themselves into the last eight.
“We have made it hard for ourselves after failing to win this game but we now put our efforts on the final group match. We created chances and lost and it is something we have to address heading into the final match. There is still a chance for us and we will take it with both hands,” Baraza said.
his opposite number Ezekiel Akwana said his eyes are fixes on the quarter-finals and added his boys have what it takes.
-Tusker vs Mathare-
In the early kick-off, Mathare United played to a goalless draw with Posta Rangers in an exciting match that both teams finished with ten men.
The draw coupled by Tusker’s 1-1 draw against Chemelil Sugar means Group B will be open heading into the final group matches as all teams are on two points.
Posta were reduced to ten men 10 minutes into the second half after keeper Namaan Karuoya was shown a straight red for handling the ball outside the box.
Posta managed to hold on despite pressure until the 88th minute when Mathare were also reduced to ten men after Lennox Ogutu received a second yellow.
It was a tactical match between the two sides under the full watch of senior team coaches Zedekiah Otieno and Francis Kimanzi with the juniors giving a very good account of themselves.
On Tuesday Group C and D will be in action with table toppers Muhoroni Youth taking on City Stars in the first match of group C while in the afternoon, Thika United takes on Kakamega Homeboyz.
In Group C, Sony Sugar takes on leaders Ushuru in the first match while Ulinzi Stars take on bottom side Bandari in the last match of the day.