Marita magic guides Leopards past Soafapaka

Wednesday June 13 2018

Sofapaka midfielder Teddy Osok (second right) battles for the ball with AFC Leopards' Victor Majid (left), Brian Marita (second left) and Marvin Omondi during their SportPesa Premiere League match at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on June 13, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |

Sofapaka midfielder Teddy Osok (second right) battles for the ball with AFC Leopards' Victor Majid (left), Brian Marita (second left) and Marvin Omondi during their SportPesa Premiere League match at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on June 13, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By VINCENT OPIYO
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Brian Marita struck the winner five minutes from time as AFC Leopards earned a crucial 1-0 win over Sofapaka in a SportPesa Premier League match at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Wednesday.

Marita latched onto a long before volleying the ball past Sofapaka custodian Mathias Kigonya who was off his line to score his fourth goal of the campaign.

Victory for Leopards, their ninth in 22 meetings against the 2009 champions, lifted Ingwe to sixth on 28 points, three adrift of third placed Sofapaka after 17 rounds.

"I am impressed with our display, we created countless chances and the boys fought like real leopards to get that goal. It's step by step and we shall rise," Leopards coach Rodolfo Zapata said after the game.

His opposite number John Baraza was disappointed with his striking force.

"We failed to utilise our chances especially in the first half. We changed the strategy in the second half to break on the counter since Leopards were good in possession but again, it didn't work. Now we go back to the drawing board and plan for the next game," he said.

Four minutes after the half hour mark, Jafari Owiti combined with Whyvonne Isuza to set up Clyde Senaji whose shot from outside the box was blocked by Yussuf Mohammed.

Sofapaka, chasing their 10th victory of the season, had an attempt that missed the target through Mohammed Kilume on 39 minutes. Leopards came close through Marvin Omondi, but his shot from close range went inches wide at the stroke of halftime.

Whyvonne Isuza and Aziz Okaka missed two glorious chances in the second half that would have given Leopards the lead.

Isuza had an open chance to break the deadlock two minutes after restart but failed to connect home his header from Marita's pinpoint cross from the right flank.

Umaru Kasumba was put through on goal by Kevin Kimani on 61 minutes but blasted his effort wide with only Ezekiel Owade to beat in Leopards goal.

Okaka saw his header from another Marita cross brilliantly saved by Kigonya in the 68th minute, his first touch after replacing Clyde Senaji.

The defensive partnership of Salim Abdalla and Robinson Kamura did everything right to stop any Sofapaka onslaught late on.