NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 20- Salim ‘Shittu’ Abdallah and Vincent Oburu were the real Shujaas for AFC Leopards, scoring a goal in either half as Ingwe clinched their 10th GOtv Shield title with a 2-0 win over Kariobangi Sharks at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani on Mashujaa Day.
AFC Leopards who won Sh2m for the win will represent Kenya at 2018 CAF Confederations Cup.
It was a sweet ending to the season for Leopards who have struggled to knit results in the league this season and the title breaks a trophy drought that dates back to 2013, when they won the same crown with a 1-0 result over rivals Gor Mahia.
The way head coach Robert Matano raced from his technical area to go and lambast Oburu with endless hugs on the right corner showed just how much the title meant to Ingwe and more specifically the experienced tactician who lost the final last year to Tusker FC while with Ulinzi.
Sharks had brought in much pressure in the second half and looked likely to get an equalizer, but once Oburu slammed the ball into the net with eight minutes left under the drenching rain at Kasarani, the job was done for Ingwe’s.
AFC’s trophy hunger was evident from the first whistle as they were relentless, in attack throwing pace and bodies upfront. They had a superb opportunity in the fourth minute when Ray Omondi was put through by Whyvonne Isuza one on one with keeper John Oyemba, but the forward missed.
Handed a rare starting opportunity by Matano, Omondi had just that one opportunity to prove his coach was right, but he took too much time with the ball, Geoffrey Shiveka racing back to make a superb tackle and knock the ball away.
Another opportunity presented itself four minutes later when Oyemba made a weak punch in an attempt to clear an Isuza cross the ball landing on Musa Mudde who however lobbed the ball over with a gaping goalmouth.
Aziz Okaka also had an opportunity in the 14th minute when he was accorded with some shooting space at the edge of the box, but the effort went just over with Oyemba well beaten.
Ingwe’s early pressure finally bore fruit in the 18th minute when Abdallah rose high to thump in a header at the backpost from a Duncan Otieno corner.
After conceding, Sharks rose back into the match putting pressure on AFC. Mathew Tayo came inches close in the 25th minute when he curled a shot just wide from inside the box after being set up by Elli Asieche.
Five minutes later, Sharks thought they had a penalty shout after Massoud Juma was hacked inside the box by keeper Gabriel Andika after lobbying the ball over him but referee Peter Waweru waved play on.
Juma had been shushed all through the game with goalscorer Abdallah being tasked with man-marking him, trailing his shadow toe to toe any slight move he made.
The second half started on a wrong footing with a six minute stoppage after a scuffle ensued between AFC Leopards stewards and a Kariobangi Sharks technical bench official behind the AFC goal over claims of black magic.
Football Kenya Federation match stewards joined the brawl and it almost turned ugly but things were quickly normalized and the contest switched back to the pitch.
Sharks coach William Muluya made a double switch, pulling out right-back Paul Kamau for winger Ovellah Ochieng while Duke Abuya came off for Ebrimah Sanneh, a clear attacking intent.
The change meant Sharks played with a back three and a five man midfield with Sanneh pairing up with the tightly marked Masoud for a two man attack.
AFC nearly doubled the lead in the 63rd minute when Oburu picked the ball unmarked on the left but with space and time on his hands, the youngster shot meekly straight at Oyemba in the Sharks goal.
With the heavens opening up to a torrential pour, the game’s intensity did not die down with Sharks piling pressure to get an equalizer while Ingwe kept their shape to try and guard their slim advantage.
Substitute Ovellah came close to drawing Sharks level in the 65th minute when he curled a freekick from the right but it came off the bar with Andika beaten.
Matano seeing his side hugely pushed back pulled out Ray Omondi for Alex Kitenge in a bid to beef up the attack. AFC were defending heavily and relying on breaks. They had one such opportunity after defending a corner, but Kitenge took too much time with the ball allowing Sharks’ players back.
Muluya’s men piled the pressure but they were undone eight minutes from time when Oburu slammed the ball into the net after Oyemba’s save from an Okaka shot from the right fell kindly on his path.
With a two goal advantage and the clock against their favor, Sharks’ pressure was hugely deflated and AFC ensured they defended in numbers to guard their advantage.