Chemelil force Leopards draw

Monday February 25 2013

 AFC Leopards’ Charles Okwemba battles for the ball with Jonathan Mwaniki of Chemelil Sugar during their Tusker Premier League match at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, yesterday. Below: Leopards players argue with referee Dennis Kagera after Mike Baraza’s controversial red card. They drew 1-1.

AFC Leopards’ Charles Okwemba battles for the ball with Jonathan Mwaniki of Chemelil Sugar during their Tusker Premier League match at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, on Sunday. Below: Leopards players argue with referee Dennis Kagera after Mike Baraza’s controversial red card. They drew 1-1. NATION

By ODINDO AYIEKO [email protected] and FRANCIS MUREITHI [email protected]

Referee James Kagera returned from a six-month suspension but should have stayed even longer in the cold as he made a farce of the Kenyan Premier League game between AFC Leopards and Chemelil Sugar which ended in a one all draw at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

At City Stadium Kenya Commercial Bank hammered City Stars 4-0 as Bandari got a rude welcome falling by a solitary goal to Ulinzi Stars.

Kagera was suspended last season for awarding AFC Leopards a dubious penalty against City Stars and he did exactly that again yesterday, awarding Leopards what looked a questionable penalty as Ingwe trailed 0-1 to the sugar millers.

Maybe, Kagera was trying to mend fences with AFC Leopards fans who had hurled all sorts of missiles onto the pitch minutes earlier after he controversially red-carded AFC Leopards striker Mike Baraza.

Baraza had been ruled offside, but this was rather questionable as he rushed to a back pass from a Chemelil defender.

When he questioned the linesman why he had been penalized for the off side, Kagera flushed a yellow card at him.

Moments later the referee showed him the red card and all hell broke loose as Leopards fans started hurling missiles on to the pitch. The game was halted for close to 20 minutes.

Game wise though, there was nothing to write home about and AFC Leopards will have to dig deep to sort out their midfield and striking inadequacies. Partilla Omoto, a teenager brought from Kariobangi Sharks showed some flashes of brilliance but his inexperience was evident. Same to Noah Wafula, who came in after the break.

Leopards’ defence was solid, Noah Abich, Anthony Kimani, Idrissa Rajab and Eric Masika covering goalkeeper Martin Musalia very well but the midfield was totally out of form until the introduction of Charles Okwemba.

Jared Omwenga gave Chemelil an early lead when he beat the AFC Leopards defence to put the ball behind Musalia.

AFC Leopards, third last season, struggled to pick up. They ended the first half without a shot on goal.

Leopards moment though came in late in the second half when Kagera adjudged Paul Were to have been upended in the box when the player looked to have dived.

At Afraha, Ulinzi Stars should count themselves lucky to have escaped with the three points and have their first choice goalkeeper Jacktone Odhimabo to thank for stopping three clear goal bound shots from marauding Bandari strikers in the last quarter of the match.

Shaban Kahindi, Aloyce Mangi and John Macharia should have sealed the game for Bandari but Odhiambo, who put out a man of the match performance, denied them victory.

The Salim Ali-coached Ulinzi scored their winning goal when burly striker Wycliffe Ochomo, who was introduced in the second half, swept the ball into the net with his first contact three minute into second half.

“I’m disappointed with this defeat because we had more chances but in football that is the price you pay for not utilizing opportunities,” said Bandari coach Twahir Muhiddin.

Coach Salim who is handling the soldiers for the first time was upbeat and described the win as “the first stepping stone to more victories in the coming matches”.

However, he paid a glowing tribute to Bandari saying it is a team to watch this season.

From then on Leopards controlled the game, Charles Okwemba missing an open chance but a one all at the end of the day was a fair result while the referees decisions will remain an issue of discussion.

InNakuru, Ulinzi Stars opened their campaign to reclaim the Tusker Premier League title on a sound noted when they gunned down the visiting Bandari 1-0 in a tough match played at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru on Sunday.

But the soldiers should count themselves lucky to have escaped with the three points  and have their first choice goalkeeper Jacktone Odhiambo to thank for stopping three clear goal bound shots from marauding Bandari strikers in the last quarter of the match.

Shaban Kahindi, Aloyce Mangi and John Macharia should have sealed the game but Odhiambo who was the man of the match denied them victory with his superb goalkeeping.

The Salim Ali coached Ulinzi scored their winning goal when their burly striker Wycliffe Ochomo who was introduced in the second half swept the ball into the net on his first contact with the ball past goalkeeper Wilson Obura three minute into second half.

“I’m disappointed with this defeat because we had more chances but in football that is the price you pay for not utilizing  opportunities,” said coach Twahir Muhiddin.

Coach Salim who is handling the soldiers for the first time was upbeat and described the win as “the first stepping stone to more victories in the coming matches”.

However, he paid a glowing tribute to Bandari saying it is a team to watch this season.