AFC Leopards still stuck in losing mode

Friday May 1 2009

Joseph Shikokoti (L) and team mate Gerry Santos of Tusker challenge Dondo Tofazwa of AFC during their KPL premier league match at the Coca-Cola National stadium .Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN.

Joseph Shikokoti (L) and team mate Gerry Santos of Tusker challenge Dondo Tofazwa of AFC during their KPL premier league match at the Coca-Cola National stadium .Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN. 

By CHARLES NYENDE

Tusker climbed to the top of the Kenyan Premier League after coming from behind to beat AFC Leopards 3-2 at Coca-Cola National Stadium on Friday.

Nassan Mutenza gave the brewers the lead in the 38th minute before Leopard scored two goals in two minutes through Sebastian Muchera and Francis Xavier minutes after the restart.

But Tusker, champions in 2008, showed their quality, snatching the game away from the home team with an opportunistic strike from Nigerian Joseph Emeka in the 61st minute and a towering header by Jerry Santos nine minutes later.

“I am satisfied with the way we played. Conceding two goals inside five minutes put a lot of pressure on us but the boys composed themselves, cooled things down and turned the game around,” Tusker coach James Nandwa said after the match.

It was Tusker’s fourth straight win in a row and a clear warning to the rest in the KPL that the brewers are getting back to their imperious best.

Nandwa even rested several of his regulars including internationals Joseph Njuguna, John Njoroge and Edwin Mukenya but came away the spoils to climb to the top of the league table with 21 points .

Their lead may, however, be short-lived as second placed Sofapaka, on 19 points, could get pack to pole position with a win away to Sher Karuturi on Saturday.

Leopards were the first to threaten when left back Collins Kisuya forced an acrobatic safe from Tusker keeper Boniface Oluoch with a fierce 40 meter shot.

But Tusker got the measure of Leopards and began to dictate the pace with some good football.

The opener came for the brewers when the overlapping Noah Abich squared the ball to Matenza for a cool finish.

Tusker looked in control but were thoroughly shaken in two minutes of Leopards onslaught. Second half substitute Tafadza Dondo showed his pace down the right wing to cross the ball to Muchera, who showed why he is Leopards’ most prolific striker this season with a neat turn to pick his spot on 47 minutes.

Two minutes later Muchera won a penalty when he was brought down in the box and Xavier calmly stepped up to give Leopards the lead.

But the home team could not hold on against the well-drilled Tusker side. A hanging cross by Oscar Kadenge was not cleared by the shaky Leopards central defence and Emeka meted punished to restore parity to the match.

The hard working Santos was rewarded for his industry rising above the poor Leopards central defence to head home Tusker’s winner.