MUMIAS, Kenya, Jul 9- Pressure eased off Ivan Minnaert’s shoulders as AFC Leopards bounced back from an eight-match winless streak courtesy of a 4-0 mauling of Thika United at the Mumias Complex on Saturday evening.
Goals from new boy Mungai Kiongera, Allan Katterega, Kepha Aswani and Bernard Mang’oli gave Ingwe the much needed revenge and sigh of relief with Thika having beaten them 2-1 in the first leg.
After a slow start to the match, Kiongera who made his debut in last weekend’s 1-0 loss against Chemelil justified his start, making an easy tap in from the left after a square pass from another new signing, John ‘Softie’ Ndirangu in the 14th minute.
The look on Minnaert’s face told it all; the pressure was beginning to shed off. The Belgian tactician had come increasingly under pressure with Ingwe failing to win in eight successive matches in the league and the docking of points by KPL’s disciplinary committee further damaged their position on the standings.
Alfred Wekesa should have made it 2-0 seven minutes later, but he had one many too touches from the left after beating Collins Okumu to open up space for himself.
Thika though who had taken time to settle into the match slowly grew into it and Timothy Ludda should have scored against his former side on the half hour mark but his attempt of lifting the ball over an advancing Ian Otieno in the Leopards goal was futile.
Ray Omondi who was banging goals left right and centre last season should have done better in the 37th minute, but he headed wide at the far post from a Joel Tata free kick.
At the stroke of halftime, Omondi almost redeemed himself but he shot straight at Otieno after picking up Mwinyi Kibwana’s attempted shot from 40 yards out.
At the start of the second half, Minnaert introduced Aswani for Wekesa and this change contributed to Ingwe’s three other goals. A minute after his introduction, Aswani knocked down Katterega’s free kick for Mang’oli but the latter’s header sailed over.
In the 49th minute though, Aswani made a contribution to Leopards’ second goal after he was brought down inside the box by Vincent Nyaberi.
Katterega took the resultant penalty and saw it saved by Martin Elung’aat but managed to follow on the rebound to poke home from his weaker right foot.
Having gone two down against his former employers, Thika United head coach James Nandwa was pulled into dropping his first cards, pulling out Michael Mutinda and Ray Omondi for Saad Musa and Salim Mzee.
Thika managed to pick up possession especially with Mzee’s dynamic runs through the middle of the pack but their biggest weakness, finishing still continued to haunt them.
Aswani who scored in the first leg made it 3-0 in the 71st minute with the easiest of taps after Elung’at had spilled Kiongera’s shot from distance.
Mang’oli drove the final nail in Thika’s coffin with a superb strike from distance after Aswani rolled on a free kick for him from 25 yards out.
In other matches, Western Stima puts some speed bump into Mathare United’s effort to leap to the top of the league standings after beating them 1-0 at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu.
Youthful midfielder Kenneth Mugambi scored the all-important goal from a well taken freekick in the second half.
At the Chemelil complex, relegation threatened Sofapaka sunk deeper into the drop zone after losing 2-1 to the hosts Chemelil Sugar.
Hillary Echesa scored his second goal in as many matches, hitting the winner in the 33rd minute after Enock Okwil had cancelled out Laban Gambareko’s early opener. In Mombasa, Bandari and Ushuru FC played to a one-all draw.