Wesley Kemboi’s two goals in the first half were enough to electrocute a disjointed AFC Leopards 2-1 in a tense Kenya Premier League (KPL) match played at Afraha stadium, Nakuru on Saturday.
In Thika, hosts Thika United FC were made to work hard before eventually seeing off Rangers FC 4-0 while in Nairobi, Nairobi City Stars battled to a 1-1 draw with Mathare United at Hope Centre.
Joseph Mwangi opened the scoring for Mathare early in the second half before Bruno Sserenkuma - no relation to Gor Mahia’s Dan Sserunkuma - equalised several minutes later in a match the home side will feel they deserved better than a share of the points.
In Nakuru, Kemboi, who was the destroyer-in-chief, tamed the visiting Leopards to increase his goal tally in the league to four.
“I dedicate these two goals to my two-year-old daughter Lesley Chepkoech,” said the 26-year-old Kemboi, who is still a casual worker at Kenya Power.
It was simply not Leopards’ day as they failed to penetrate past Western Stima’s defence which was well marshalled by David Otieno.
Western Stima, who played a cool game, invaded Leopards’ defence and after a quarter of fine exchanges, Aloise Mangi made a brilliant run on the touchline and released a well-weighted cross which was firmly headed home by Kemboi past goalkeeper Barnabas Tiema.
Leopards should have cancelled the lead in the 35th minute but Laurent Tumba, with a yawning goal at his mercy, blasted over the cross bar.
As referee Tom Onyango was preparing to signal for the end of the first half, Kemboi, who had a fruitful day in the office, collected a lose ball inside the box and rounded a defender before beating the advancing Leopards custodian Tiema with powerful ground shot.
Leopards’ consolation goal was scored by second half substitute Mike Baraza who rolled with the ball on the left wing and unleashed a punishing grass cutter past goalkeeper Ben Roberts Mandela.
“Our defence was prone to many mistakes and this is because our key defender Eric Masika was not in the starting line up ,” said AFC Leopards coach Jan Koops.
“This is a big and worrying defeat for us. We are now only separated by two points from our arch-rivals Gor Mahia. We lacked our usual fighting spirit which came too late in the second half,” added Koops.
On his part coach Henry Omino was satisfied with the results.
“This is not the first time I’m beating Leopards as a coach as I have beaten them when I handled Kisumu Posta and Agro Chemical and I attribute our victory to proper planning,” said Omino.
Soon after the match angry Leopards fans held the team bus hostage in the pitch for a few minutes before anti-riot police intervened.
“We need an explanation from the technical bench because they are paid well and have insurance cover among other fringe benefits yet they are losing easy points when the league is at its critical stages,” yelled a fan as he stood in front of the bus.
In Thika, both sides wasted several chances in the first half that ended goalless.
Thika should thank their goal keeper Lukas Indeche for keeping them in the game with some stunning saves.
The hosts came back in the second half rejuvenated with their striker Moses Arita moving forward towards the goal mouth beating the goalkeeper Lawrence Webo with a right footer in the 47th minute.
The second goal was scored by left footer by Wycliff Opondo in the 55th minute after a nice pass from John Nairuka.
In the 63th minute there was some confusion in the goalmouth with Kennedy Otieno taking advantage to score through a header.
Second half substitute Freeman Mulbah the scored the fourth in the 85th minute after placing the ball with a right footer in the left corner.
Thika United played without Clifftone Miheso who is injured as well as Denis Odhiambo, who is in the injury list.