Kitambi finds the winning formula at Leopards lair, Gor soar high
- AFC Leopards roared into the top-five of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) bracket for the first time this season, after outclassing Mathare United 4-3 in a drama-filled league match at the weekend, at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
- In a weekend that saw four barren draws registered, Ingwe's win, Chemelil Sugar and Bandari made the biggest impact on the log; the sugar millers dethroning Mathare from the second spot as the dockers moved to third.
AFC Leopards roared into the top-five of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) bracket for the first time this season, after outclassing Mathare United 4-3 in a drama-filled league match at the weekend, at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
This was Mathare United’s first defeat of the campaign as the league entered round six.
In a weekend that saw four barren draws registered, Ingwe’s win, Chemelil Sugar and Bandari made the biggest impact on the log; the sugar millers dethroning Mathare from the second spot as the dockers moved to third.
Most significantly, Tanzanian Dennis Kitambi seems to have mastered the art of winning at the Den since taking charge slightly over a week ago following the suspension of besieged head coach Robert Matano whose suspension enters the third week.
Kitambi’s confidently rallied from two goals down to floor the 2008 champions, who had taken an early lead in the first half, underlining the intent to restore their pride that whose hope was seemingly fading fast after a poor start under Matano’s stewardship.
Kitambi noted his player’s proper reaction to the game earned them the important win, underscoring the camaraderie he has been cultivating in the team is working wonders.
“In the first half we made childish mistakes, and we allowed them (Mathare) goals we should have avoided. It was easy to correct those mistakes before resuming because they were simple things in our defense and how we were building up going forward, and the reaction was awesome.
“Conceding three goals is a concern because announcer every opponent will surrender three points after scoring over two goals, so we have to look at that keenly. The most important thing we have sustained the momentum we started with at Sony a week ago,” Kitambi averred after the thriller.
He had seen Leopards beat Sony Sugar 2-0 at the Awendo Green Stadium, just two days after stepping in for the suspended no-nonsense Matano, further raising suggestions among the fans the latter was failing in his mandate.
His writing is on the wall, by all standards, if the club’s executive leaders pronouncement that assessment of Leopards progress in his absentia, would eventually determine his fate.
Gor’s bench power
Of the 18 teams in the topflight, record champions Gor are the only side yet to taste defeat, despite their busy schedule so far with the CAF Champions League assignment factored in.
Their win over Nzoia condemned the Bernard Mwalala coached side to their season’s fifth defeat, leaving them last on the table with just three points out of possible 18.
Gor’s bench power was evident, head coach Dylan Kerr overhauling the whole first team that played against Esperance in last Wednesday’s Champions League tie.
Not only did Kerr rest all the regular starters, but also gave fresh faces places on the bench save for George Odhiambo, Humphrey Mieno and Joash Onyango.
However, poor officiating was pointed out by both sides coaches, Kerr asserting it was below standards.
“Comparing the Egyptian referee who handled our match against Esperance and today’s referee you notice a big difference. I’m not KPL, but I wonder how a referee can address an official in such a language. I can’t tell openly what he said, it is shameful.
“I’m happy about the points but not how we played. Everyone has their place in the team and I have to give all players a chance to show why they should put on Gor’s jersey,” offered Kerr, expressing dissatisfaction with his second string squad despite the win.
Mwalala on his part said his major task is to sharpen the quite blunt striking force, blaming poor finishing as his charges main undoing.
“We should have gone home with something had we been clinical in converting our chances. We are yet to regain our last season’s rhythm, which we can only rediscover with more hard work in front of goals.
“If we keep on improving like we showed against Gor, definitely we are headed somewhere,” the former Harambee Stars striker said.
Kariobangi Sharks match against Sofapaka, Posta Rangers versus Wazito FC, Tusker FC versus Thika United and newbies Vihiga United against Zoo Kericho all ended in goalless draws.
Bandari were another prolific side in their Mbaraki backyard, thumping Sony 3-0, as Chemelil pumped four goals against Nakumatt. Kakamega Homeboyz lost their second match in a row, surrendering 1-0 to visiting Ulinzi Stars, in the wake of abandonment by former coach Mike Mururi.
A total of 17 goals were scored, 12 of them coming from the two matches (Mathare against Leopards and Nakumatt versus Chemelil).
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