Sofapaka embarass AFC Leopards to boost survival hopes
Struggling giants AFC Leopards were further disgraced on Friday in front of the watching new head coach, Stewart Hall, when they were skinned 3-2 by Sofapaka FC who are fighting for their lives to remain in the top flight at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
In the thrilling encounter, veteran defensive midfielder Noah Abich returned to haunt his former side Ingwe with venom, delivering three set pieces that all led to goals for Sofapaka who moved to within two points of 14th placed Ushuru FC on 22.
Ezekiel Okore notched a brace with Charles Melubo adding the third with Leopards hitting back through Alfred ‘Kemboi’ Wekesa and substitute Jack Bruno Kiyai as Briton Hall who arrived on Thursday to take the reins at the Den watching his new side from the stands.
With 30 points, Leopards cannot be relegated but remain in the unfamiliar position of 13th after remaining winless in their last seven outings in the league.
It was Ingwe who made a dream start when Wekesa turned in a Simon Abuko fine cross for the opener to punish a poor clearance from Abich with Mathias Kigonya collecting the ball from his net in the eighth minute.
Five minutes later, the 2009 champions restored parity through Okore who headed home an Abich free-kick past the advancing national Under-20 goalkeeper Edwin Mukolwe.
Coach Ezekiel Akwana’s gamble to start the youngster between the posts ahead of former Posta Rangers custodian Ian Otieno proved costly when Okore notched his double with a thumping header from another Abich delivery.
With John Baraza’s men showing more signs to add the third, Akwana was forced to withdraw Mukolwe for Otieno five minutes past the half-hour mark.
Three minutes into the second stanza Melubo’s goal for Sofapaka was chalked off for offside.
Akwana brought on Bernard Mang’oli for Yusuf Suf before introducing Kiyai, a striker, for full back Yusuf Juma as he chased to gain a control of the match.
Leopards’ appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears in the 70th after Fredrick Kentile supposedly handled the ball in the box.
Sofapaka retreated to the back and waited to pounce on the counter as Leopards mounted pressure and with five minutes from full time, Melubo buried Moses Odhiambo’s cross for 3-1 on the breakaway.
Odhiambo needed just a minute on the pitch to deliver the assist from another sumptuous free-kick by Abich.
Ingwe pulled one back in the 89th through Kiyai, taking advantage of confusion in the Sofapaka’s box but was not enough to salvage a point or more importantly, pride.
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