Leopards earn first victory as Mathare outclass fancied Sofapaka as Gor edge out battling Kariobangi Sharks.
Former Kakamega High School striker Marvin Omondi scored deep into injury time to earn AFC Leopards a dramatic 2-1 win over Ulinzi Stars in a Kenyan Premier League match at Thika Stadium, yesterday.
Mathare United returned to the top of the table after trouncing Sofapaka 3-1 in Machakos. Champions Gor Mahia moved to the second position after seeing off a stubborn Kariobangi Sharks 2-1 in the second match at the same venue.
Francis Omondi and Chrispin Oduor’s first half goals followed by Edward Seda’s strike after the hour mark condemned fancied Sofapaka to their second defeat of the season. While in Kericho, hosts Zoo Kericho registered their first win of the campaign after silencing Thika United 2-1.
The Thika match was marred with controversies as the referee disallowed goals for both teams. The first victim was Ulinzi’s Churchill Muloma whose goal was ruled offside before Duncan Otieno’s strike on the opposite end was also disallowed.
Substitute Jafffery Owiti put Leopards in the driving seat in the 69th minute, a few moments after replacing Ghanaian striker Eric Bekoe. The former Chemelil Sugar forward volleyed home Brian Marita’s decent cross from the right in the area.
However, Owiti’s celebration was short lived as Ulinzi equalised in less than six minutes. Oliver Rutto seemed to have secured a point for the dominant soldiers when he curled home a free-kick that left AFC goalkeeper Jairus Adira stranded.
But after surviving more than three scares at the other end, Omondi capitalised on the soldiers’ defensive mix up in the box, latched on the ball from Ezekiel Otuoma’s delivery to send the stadium into a frenzy.The wild celebrations both on the stands and Leopards’ technical bench clearly showed how relieved they were after their early elimination from the CAF Confederations Cup.
Leopards coach Robert Matano couldn’t hide his joy as he pumped his fists and jumped high in delight after the youngster’s match winning goal against hist former employers.
“That was a perfect response from the boys after Confederations Cup exit. We expected it to be tough, but I am happy the boys played their hearts out and got the three points,” Matano told Standard Sports
“This is a new youthful team that needs to be given time. We hope to build on this performance.”
But for his Ulinzi counterpart Danstun Nyaudo, poor officiating and concentration lapse cost them victory.
“Just like the Sony Sugar match, we didn’t deserve to lose today. We scored two clear goals but the referee disallowed the one that could have changed the dynamics of the game,” Nyaudo said.
He added: “But we were also pathetic at the back. We conceded two very cheap goals from a similar defensive blunder.” Ulinzi will, however, have themselves to blame after their front-line led by Masuta Masita, Cliff Kasuti and Oscar Wamalwa squandered a host of scoring opportunities.