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KPL review: AFC Leopards find their spots

AFC Leopards head coach Cassa Mbungo greets forward Brian Marita during his first match in charge against Mount Kenya United at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on February 7, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – AFC Leopards finally put a woeful run of six consecutive defeats behind their backs after a hard earned 1-0 win over Sony Sugar at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega on Saturday, lifting the dark veil of relegation off their faces.

Leopards went into match week 16 sitting bottom of the standings and the decision to move the match to their ‘ancestral home’ at the Bukhungu Stadium might have appeased their ancestors as they finally picked a win.

For the first time since January 2 when they beat Posta Rangers 2-0, Ingwe kept a clean sheet as the belief finally returned that they might be on their way back into the top half of the standings, Cassa Mbungo picking his first win in charge of the 12-time league champions.

The victory took Leopards to 15th with 13 points.

-Homeboyz on the rampage

Kakamega Homeboyz forward Max Ravel celebrates a goal during a past Kenyan Premier League match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

And the gods of Kakamega looked to be working overtime as on the same day AFC had picked their much needed win, Nicholas Muyoti, their former skipper picked up his first victory in charge of Kakamega Homeboyz with a healthy 6-0 victory over Mount Kenya United..

They say revenge is best served cold and no one knows this better than Homeboyz. Last season, Mount Kenya, then Nakumatt FC outclassed Homeboyz thrashing them 6-1 at the Camp Toyoyo grounds and the men from Kakamega lay in wait and hit with exact same venom.

Allan Wanga struck twice to take his season tally to eight and onto the leaderboard of the KPL golden boot hunt. Wanga who won the coveted title on his top flight debut in 2007 looks to repeat that same feat and has vowed to fight for it.

While Homeboyz scaled to ninth in the standings with 21 points, Mount Kenya who merely survived the chop last season dropped to the basement of the standings with their third defeat in four games.

-Bandari remain top

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Bandari FC forward Darius Msagha tries to find a way past Mathare United’s David Owino during their Kenyan premier League clash at the Mbaraki Complex on March 2, 2019. PHOTO/Mathare United

Bandari are focused to grind results and keep their hold on the top spot and it was evident on Saturday when they waded off a hard fighting and tactically endowed Mathare United to pick up a point in a 0-0 draw at home.

Francis Kimanzi, the Mathare United boss had never lost to the dockers in Mombasa as the Slum Boys’ boss and he kept his record intact with a point that assured his side of a second spot stay with 30 points, just two shy of leaders Bandari who however have a game at hand.

Mathare seem to have started their rise again after a five match lull and their four points in two games will hopefully spur them to get back into title contention shape.

-Sofapaka keep their noses up

Sofapaka forward Umaru Kasumba celebrates his late winner for Sofapaka against KCB in a KPL tie in Machakos on March 3, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Luck sometimes has to ride on the same bus with a title chasing team and Sofapaka know this only too well. After losing to Gor Mahia and drawing away to Homeboyz, Batoto ba Mungu needed luck by all means and they had exactly that against KCB on Sunday.

The bankers scored a last gasp penalty, Umaru Kassumba striking his seventh goal of the season to move up to fourth on the standings with 27 points, five off leaders Bandari.

John Baraza was made to work with a few changes in his team, some of the players who had been influential in his decent six-match winning run being absent.

George Maelo was out at right back with a short term injury while midfielder Mohammed Kilume faces up to five weeks’ absence with a hamstring problem. Left back Titus Achesa was suspended after accumulating five yellow cards.

Dennis Odhiambo is also recovering from a knee injury and was not involved in the tie.

But, even with almost a makeshift cog, the tactician managed to earn a result that will spur their confidence to finish the first leg with at least 30 points.

-Tusker falter again, Sharks rise

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Tusker FC head coach Robert Matano during his side’s Kenyan Premier League match against Gor Mahia at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on February 27. 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Robert Matano and his alemen suffered a third successive league defeat after suffering a consecutive 1-0 loss away to Nzoia Sugar in Bungoma on Saturday.

The title chasing Tusker were hoping to bounce back from the 1-0 loss to Gor in midweek but fell short once again, the defeat seeing them drop to fifth.

While they faltered, another title hopeful Kariobangi Sharks picked themselves up after two winless games, hitting Chemelil Sugar 2-0 at Kasarani to scale to sixth with 25 points.

KPL Weekend results:

Saturday: Bandari 0-0 Mathare United Western Stima 1-1 Vihiga United, Nzoia Sugar 1-0 Tusker, Mount Kenya United 0-6 Kakamega Homeboyz, AFC Leopards 1-0 Sony Sugar, Kariobangi Sharks 2-0 Chemelil Sugar.

Sunday: Sofapaka 1-0 KCB, Zoo Kericho 1-0 Posta Rangers.

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