Otieno spares Leopards skins in GOtv horror show
Kenyan Premier League (KPL) giants, AFC Leopards scrapped through to the round of 32 of the GOtv Shield by the skin of their teeth after edging Nationwide Division Two side, Mumbi National 4-3 on penalties on Friday.
The Thika based side almost caused the biggest upset of the opening round when they came within seconds of skinning the 12-time national champions with Leopards scoring the equaliser in the 95th minute of added time for a 1-1 stalemate in regular time.
Regular Harambee Stars call-up, Ian Otieno who assisted Eugene Ambulwa’s late leveller then turned the hero in the shootout by saving three spot kicks to spare the blushes of the 10-time domestic cup winners who continued their wastefulness to penalties.
Joseph Waithera scored three minutes from the end of the 90 to put the hearts of the small crowd of Ingwe’s faithful in their mouths to kick-start the grand stand finale to a game that up to that point, was a forgettable affair.
New signing Charles Bruno hit the post in the shootout to hand Mumbi the advantage at 3-1 but Otieno kept his side in it before striker Kepha Aswani had his feeble effort in the fifth kept out for Leopards.
Captain Bernard Mang’oli, who was making his first appearance for Ingwe since returning from Bandari FC, Edwin Wafula, Ambulwa and the all action hero, Otieno converted their spot kicks for Ivan Minnaert’s side.
Kevin Otieno, Waithera and Mandela Obach saw theirs saved by the Ingwe keeper while David Kariuki, Wycliffe Nyabuti and Alex Mungai hit the target for the brave underdogs.
“We would have left ourselves in an awkward situation had Mumbi defeated us. Our fans have high expectations and it is good we won. I was not prepared for the penalties, I expected the business done by regular time,” a relieved Minnaert said after the nerve shredding encounter.
It was Mumbi who threatened first through John Njoroge who weaved his way past Ingwe defenders but Otieno who was among six newcomers to the Leopards side made his first telling save of the encounter.
David Kariuki then forced the former Posta Rangers keeper to a full stretch dive to parry out a well taken free kick to underline his credentials as the man-of-the-match early on.
In the 19th minute, Victor Nyasiwo fouled Ingwe’s Andrew Tololwa in the box but centre referee Peter Waweru waved away loud appeals for a penalty.
Mumbi’s defender Shadrack Lewa denied the same player in the box two minutes later when he was readying himself to tuck the ball in.
In the 33rd, another Ingwe debutant and former Kariobangi Sharks winger, John Ndirangu tore through the right flank and beat his markers to send in a low delivery that the unlucky Aswani failed to connect by inches what would have been a certain opener.
Harun Nyakha, who was also enjoying his first run in the KPL sides then found Aswani just outside the box and the striker turned to unleash a powerful shot that flew wide. Two minutes later, he spurned another chance with Mumbi’s keeper well beaten.
In the 41st, Aswani combined well with Ndirangu before releasing Tololwa whose shot was blocked out for a corner.
Just before the break, Ndirangu outpaced his markers again before sending a glorious cross that flashed across goal to the boot of Mang’oli who fired harmlessly over.
After the restart, Simon Bunyasi came on for Nyakha and almost made immediate impact when he forced a telling save before Aswani wall held back for a foul call by the referee before he could tuck in the rebound.
Lewa then came off paving way for Benson Ndung’u as Minnaert withdrew Tololwa for another new signing from Nairobi City Stars, Yusuf Suf.
In the 66th Aswani had the ball at the back of the net joy was cut short when the referee ruled it out for off-side.
Ingwe continued to command proceedings without scoring and their profligacy was almost ruthlessly punished when Waithera beat returning defender Edwin Wafula before slotting home late on to spread fear in the Den.
However with their reputation on the line and a generous amount of added on time, Leopards clawed on and got the equaliser in the most basic of fashions when a long punt from Otieno found Ambulwa who levelled with a back header.
In an earlier kick-off staged in the same venue, KCB crashed 3-0 to also book a spot in the round of 32.
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