Nick Yakhama couldn’t have asked for a better result on his return at the AFC Leopards helm, than that 2-0 win over Bandari in a Kenyan Premier League match on Sunday at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Champions Ulinzi Stars and Rangers FC had played to a 1-1 draw in an earlier match at the same venue.
Laurent Tumba scored after eight minutes and when Emmanuel Tostao added the second in the 30th minute, Yakhama clenched his fist, punched the air and exclaimed, “Yes” as his side leaped three places up to tie fifth with Gor Mahia on 15 points.
From the kick off, the match was played at a frantic pace, with both sides fancying themselves to take the match.
It took little under five minutes before Leopards showed exactly what they can do, when Tostao unleashed a rocket from 25metres, forcing a fantastic save from Abdulrahman Swaleh.
Leopards looked uncharacteristically sturdy and efficient looking at the back, stifling any potential attacking moves from the visitors.
The fluid passing from Ingwe caused havoc for Bandari and it was only going to be a matter of time before the wounded Leopards made the breakthrough.
Just after eight minutes, a clearance was whipped onto the path of Tumba, who shot with fantastic power; proving too much for the goalkeeper as the corner of the net bulged and the stadium erupted.
Tostao added the advantage in the 30th minute after Swaleh punched a Shaban Ramadhan shot.
“This was a very good display from my players. They showed maturity and great form in that win.
It has also come at a very good opportunity as we aim to regain our form,” said Yakhama after the match.
In the Ulinzi match, former Harambee Stars Mike Baraza scored in the 15th minute for Ulinzi, before Pascal Ochieng ensured parity with a well taken penalty 10 minutes later, after Collins Kisuya brought down Edwin Mwaura in the box.
There was a very cautious opening spell to the game, and as both sides tried to settle into their rhythm chances were few and far between.
Mohammed Hussein dragged a shot wide for Ulinzi followed by a 30-metre strike from his teammate Baraza after 11 minutes which was on target and well struck, but did not unduly worry Lawrence Webo in the Rangers’ net.
The champions’ midfield now seemed to take a grip of the game and enjoyed lengthy spells of possession, with Stephen Waruru an eager runner down the left giving Brian Mandela a torrid time.
Plenty of good Ulinzi build up play seemed to meet with a solid back four of Rangers who definitely appeared to relish the challenge.
Each time a soldier attack reached an area of danger it fizzled out, usually as a result of Pascal Ochieng’s attentions.
On 15 minutes, though, Allan Muhati controlled a long clearance off his goal deep in Rangers territory.
The precise clearance by Kisuya, which was the first good thing he’d done all afternoon, was flicked on at the near post by Muhati to the indefatigable Baraza.