BAPTISM BY FIRE: KPL new boys find going tough as Ingwe end jinx

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Tuesday, March 21st 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
MUHORONI YOUTH Maxwel Onyango (left) of Muhoroni Youth tackles Kariobangi Sharks goalkeeper Robert Mboya during their Kenya Premier League match at the Muhoroni stadium on March 19, 2017. [Photo:]

AFC Leopards ended the jinx of not winning their Kenyan Premier League opening fixtures as new comers, save for Nzoia Sugar, suffered their second consecutive losses in the topflight football.

It was a difficult second round for Nakumatt, who lost 3-0 to Leopards, as reinstated Muhoroni Youth silenced Kariobangi Sharks by beating them 1-0, while 15-time champions Gor Mahia saw off Zoo Kericho by the same margin.

Nzoia United held Mathare United to a barren draw as Tusker’s stuttering start to the season continued after going down 2-0 to the youthful Thika United.

Tusker were a pale shadow of their former selves as the hosts tore them apart, inflicting a second loss in a row on the brewers.

But it was Leopards’ duo of Gilbert Fiamenyo and Marcelas Ingotsi who made a brilliant KPL debut, scoring a goal each in their convincing win over Nakumatt.

“Fiamenyo is very clever on the ball; he is a great target man. We are an energy and pressing team. He is great when we have the ball, but play 10-men when we lose possession,” AFC coach Stewart Hall said of Fiamenyo’s contribution.

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“It is a tricky balancing act and that’s why I stick with Kiongera (Paul) because he does Fiamenyo’s job most of the time. It is a good combination.”

The pair joins Brian Otieno (2), Elvis Rupia, Edwin Wafula and Boniface Omondi (Nzoia United), Jean Baptiste (Gor Mahia), and David Owino (Mathare United) on the list of players who scored on debut for their clubs in round one.

Others are Sosthenes Idah (Thika United), Enock Agwanda (Bandari), and Mathew Odongo (Kariobangi Sharks).

The Leopards coach said they had a lot of pressure ahead of their opening match of the season.

“We left it late, but that’s the nature of football. Not having a game last weekend put a lot of pressure on us because everybody was waiting to see what the team looks like,” Hall said.

“And the fact that we have never won our first game of the season increased the pressure. But I tried hard to keep the pressure off the players,” said Hall.

He further defended his decision not to start with young players against Nakumatt.

“It wasn’t a game for the youngsters because there was a lot of pressure on it. Oburu (Vincent) was cleared just before the match but I couldn’t field him. I also benched Mao (Ibrahim) and brought in Ingotsi late in the game,” explained the Briton.