Leopards maul Thika, Stima short circuit Mathare

AFC Leopards coach, Ivan Minnaerts applauds after his team beat Chemelil Sugar in a past ...
AFC Leopards coach, Ivan Minnaerts applauds after his team beat Chemelil Sugar in a past game. PHOTO/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

AFC Leopards are finally back to the groove after hammering Thika United 4-0 in a Kenyan Premier League (KPL) clash played at the Mumias Sports Complex on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Mathare United missed the chance to take over at the top when their title chase was cooled by a 1-0 defeat to Western Stima as Chemelil Sugar FC drove another nail into Sofapaka’s KPL coffin by edging the bottom side 2-1.

Bandari FC and Ushuru FC shared a 1-1 stalemate in Mombasa to round the Saturday’s fixtures that left Tusker FC still on top on 32 points ahead of Sunday’s crunch visit to Ulinzi Stars FC in Nakuru.

The gaze was on under pressure Leopards Belgian coach, Ivan Minnaert, but his wounded Leopards came out firing to hand Thika, coached by former boss, James Nandwa a second successive defeat.

New signing Paul Mungai Kiongera and the returning midfielder Bernard Mang’oli led the onslaught in Mumias in a result that saw Ingwe move up to 11th on 20 with the Milkmen only one position off the drop zone on 15.

The handsome victory gave Minnaert reprieve after the fans threatened to force his exit following last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Chemelil.

Kiongera, acquired from Tanzania’s giants Simba SC in the June transfer window hit one and provided an assist, as Mang’oli who returned to the Den from Bandari also found the net.

Former Thika striker Kepha Aswani and Allan Katerrega sealed the rout for Nandwas’s side who lost their second leg opener 2-1 to champions Gor Mahia.

“It was a good result, you can see the progress in the team and we have now began to gel. I had no pressure because I have good team and it was just a matter of time before we get results.

“Kiongera was good, and we expect Diarra and Emanuel to soon join the team and you can expect the competition in the team to be even tougher,” Minnaert remarked post-match.

Nandwa conceded nothing worked his side on the day after failing to lead his side to the double over Leopards having beaten the home side 2-1 in their first leg clash in May.

“This is football, sometimes you cannot explain what happens, that’s why am going back to the training to look for a win in another match,” the crestfallen tactician said.

-Leopards milk Thika dry-

Having not won a game in five and disquiet growing in the Den, Minnaert needed a quick fix and his side delivered, dominating the early stages of an open game as Kiongera and newly signed John Ndirangu troubling the Milkmen’s defense.

After Thika’s Collins Okumu was booked for fouling Alfred Wekesa just outside the box, Leopards surged ahead when Ndirangu fed Kiongera with a fine cross to open his Ingwe account with a crisp finish.

Thika were denied and equaliser when keeper Ian Otieno rushed off his line to deny Ray Omondi just when he was about to pull the trigger, showing why he has relegated Lucas Indeche to the bench since his arrival in June.

A minute past the half hour mark, Leopards’ Cameroonian winger Joel Tata missed an open goal with the keeper beaten.

Okumu was lucky to escape a red card in the 41st after recklessly fouling and his side was almost punished in the 44th when Kiongera connected with a Kateregga’s cross but his finish cleared the crossbar.

Otieno was called upon to preserve Ingwe’s lead in time added on after 45’ when he thwarted Omondi from point blank range with a smart save.

Minnaert brought on Aswani for Wekesa and only four minutes after the restart, he saw his side take a 2-0 lead when Ugandan Kateregga buried home the rebound when the substitute forward’s feeble penalty was blocked back to play.

Aswani redeemed himself in the 72nd when he made it 3-0 from an assist from Kiongera for his second goal against his former side this season.

Four minutes later, Mang’oli signed off the victory in emphatic fashion when he unleashed an unstoppable free kick to add the gross to the scoreline.

-Mathare fall-

Kenneth Muguna’s 66th minute goal was the difference between Stima and Mathare in Kisumu in a result that prevented Francis Kimanzi’s side from leapfrogging Tusker to the top.

The Slum Boys remain second on 30 having played a game more while Stima (25) moved up to sixth on the log. The Brewers will extend their lead to five if they beat Ulinzi and champions Gor Mahia come unstuck against Kakamega Homeboyz.

Chemelil are up to eighth after following their defeat of Leopards by prevailing over Sofapaka (seven) who are in danger of being cut adrift in bottom, especially if Nairobi City Stars who are four above win on Sunday.

The game was decided in the first half with Laban Gambareko giving Chemelil the lead in the 16th only for Enock Okwil to hit back for Batoto ba Mungu in the 25th.

Parity only lasted eight minutes veteran Hillary Echessa scoring what proved to be the winner.

In Mombasa, Lamine Diallo who was released by Leopards put Ushuru ahead in the 56th but home side Bandari did not take long to fashion the leveller in the 62nd through David King’atua who was later booked with 10 minutes of play left.

Ushuru inched up to ninth while Bandari remained 12th following the stalemate.

Additional reporting by Eric Kagunda

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