KAKAMEGA, Kenya, Feb 11- GOtv Shield champions AFC Leopards were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at home by visiting Fosa Juniors from Madagascar in a CAF Confederations Cup tie at the Bukhungu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The result, especially Fosa’s single away goal hits a major blow in Ingwe’s chances of making it into the first round of the continental competition. Youngster Yusuf Mainge gave AFC Leopards an early lead but it lasted just 12 minutes as Rado Mbolasoa equalized for the vistors.
Save for Mainge’s third minute goal, AFC Leopards had a disastrous first half and it was evidenced in coach Matano making a double substitution after 40 minutes. Soon after conceding the equalizer, Ingwe were simply lost and let the visitors run over them.
Mainge who had been handed a start in the absence of injured regular Dennis Sikhayi broke the deadlock after three minutes though it came with some touch of fortune.
From almost 40 metres out, the Kakamega High School alumni sighted Prince Arkoh’s run into the box and lifted the ball into his direction, but the Ghanaian’s effort at going for the header wasn’t successful as the ball was a few centimeters off his head.
However, his jump ahead of keeper Tabibo Balvano confused the shot stopper and the ball ended inside the net.
AFC had earlier threatened with the under-performing Uche having a shot from inside the box turned behind for a corner in the second minute.
But the patient Fosa Juniors were not downtrodden despite going down early and they kept their shape, building up play with the patience of a hunting lion.
They came close in the 11th minute when Thedin Ramanjary glanced in a header unmarked inside the box, but the ball went inches wide.
As if AFC didn’t read the red signs, they were punished for their mistakes in the 15th minute when Mbolasoa equalized.
Duncan Otieno attempted to play the ball from the back but was dispossessed, The Fosa right back breaking into the box and wading off a late challenge from Isaac Oduro before beating Andika.
After conceding the goal, AFC seemed lost inside their own little world. They became rushed in their approach with Aziz Okaka and Henry Uche losing ball after ball in attack.
Mbolasoa should have made it 2-1 for the visitors in the 37th minute when he broke off into the area from another lost AFC ball lifting the ball over the advancing Andika, but luckily, the second assistant referee waved offside.
Two minutes later, the visitors had another brilliant opportunity when Jean Yves broke into the box from a through ball, one on one with Andika, but he could not beat the keeper as his effort at chipping the ball over went awry.
Reading the signs that his team would be run over by the organized and structured Fosa, Matano made two changes at a go with five minutes left before half time, bringing off the hugely underperforming Uche and Okaka for Collins Okoth and Baker Lukooya.
With the introduction of the two, Whyvonne Isuza dropped to play as a number 10 with Gattuso partnering Victor Majid in midfield while Lukooya went wide.
Three minutes to half time left back Oduro came close with a freekick from the edge of the box which was turned behind for a corner by keeper Balvano.
The home side started the second half well and seven minutes in, Lukooya had a chance at the far post after being picked out by a well floated cross from an Otieno cross, but he failed to give it a heacy touch, the keeper collecting with ease.
Matano threw in his final card with 13 minutes played in the second half, bringing in Ezekiel Odera for Whyvonne Isuza as he went back to the traditional 4-4-2 with clear intent of packing the front for a goal.
On the hour mark Lukooya was picked out with another pinpoint pass from Otieno, but his first touch failed him after beating the offside trap, the ball rolling to the keeper who collected.
In the 68th minute, Odera had another opportunity for AFC with a rasping shot from the edge of the box after being teed up by Vincent Oburu but the keeper made a super finger tip save to turn the ball behind for a corner.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Fosa had a rare second half chance when Dieudonne Henry’s freekick from the right fell on Nambinna Ralairimanana at the far post who tapped the ball across the face of goal but Pierre Michael Tavina failed to direct it into goal a yard out.
AFC piled the pressure, but couldn’t get the winner and now have a mountain to climb in the second leg.