Penalty-shy Leopards maul Kisumu All Stars

Winger Vincent Oburu and John Mark Makwatta were the star men scoring a goal apiece in either side of the half as AFC Leopards mauled Kisumu All Stars 2-0 on Saturday afternoon in the lakeside city of Kisumu. Oburu opened the accounts in the 27th minute with a fierce drive before Makwatta added the second midway through the second half, atoning for his first-half penalty miss. Good on goalpoaching, he’s poor in penalties as he missed two – one in each half that would have taken his goal tally to 15. The match had its fair share of thrills as Ohangla tunes reverberated loudly at the Moi in Kisumu as thousands of home fans who thronged the venue swerved their hips to the sweet beats. Going by the pre-match ritual and the palpable excitement one would have been mistaken to believe that Kisumu All Stars, popularly known as `Otenga` would carry the day. After all they have had a painful run making for an agonising read on the KPL table. Prior to this match their record read as such: 2wins, 2draws and a staggering 13 defeats. That aside, the kick off was delayed by a massive 17 minutes as the four match officials staged a go slow demanding their allowances be paid upfront. It took some lobbying, persuasion and a gentleman’s agreement to get them take to the pitch. On the terraces the mood was lively but on it, the home side struggled after a good start that saw them ruffle Leopards rearguard in the second minute, Michael Owino`s cross meandering through a forest of legs in the box before Martin Okumu`s follow-up was blocked. The game, in its fairness, attracted one of the largest crowds witnessed in home matches thanks to “Jaza Stadi” campaign, an initiative of a local gaming firm aimed at rallying the masses to return to the stadia. All Stars winger Nelson Amunga troubled Leopards midway through the second half missing the target narrowly with an 18th minute shot across goal before being ruled for offside four minutes later when he thought he had beaten the trap with only All Stars goalie Geoffrey Were to beat. But so it seemed, Leopards, buoyed by experience just marked the time and when the opportunity to bite the prey came in the 25th minute, they did so with little remorse; winger Vincent Oburu picking his spot with a hard shot from outside the box that nestled into the net. The goal got the Leopards roaring and in the 29th minute, lead striker John Mark Makwatta missed the chance to widen his team’s lead and take his season tally to 13 when his feeble penalty was saved by All Stars keeper Were who dived to his right to palm away. After his miss Makwatta made an attempt to redeem himself turning his markers inside out but his resultant weak shot was calmly gathered by Were in the 36th minute before his rocket drive was denied by the stretched leg of Were, again, a minute later! The big cats, a 12-time champion have had a rough patch moreso regarding finances – their former head coach Casa Mbungo becoming the biggest casualty when he resigned in a huff but if at all the boys are stung by the financial strain, it did not show here on their performance. Caretaker coach, the youthful Anthony Kimani who’s ably steadied the ship in the wake of Mbungo`s exit cut the image of a calm figure on the touchline – he’s a former captain of the side – and little wonder it’s having some effect on the boys. Seven minutes after the breather, Jaffari Owiti had the golden chance after beating his markers, but skied his shot when he could have opted for skill rather than power. Such goal-poaching instincts come with age while for the innately gifted they simply summon the skill – and it showed in his poor finishing. The win leaves Leopards on 31 points from 18 games.

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