AFC Leopards went top of the Kenyan Premier League for the first time in the 2017 season after pulling a 0-0 draw against Ulinzi Stars in a rescheduled Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match played at the Machakos County Stadium on Wednesday 5th April.
AFC Leopards head coach Stewart Hall on the other handed youngster Marcelus Ingotsi and Uganda internation Allan Katergga their first start of the season in his squad that will play Ulinzi. Ingotsi replaced Paul Kiongera who had hurt his knee in their 2-1 defeat of Nzoia United. Kateregga on the other hand has taken Marcus Abwao on the flanks.
Robinson Kamura partnered Salim Abdallah and Marcus Abwao in a three man defence with Duncan Otieno, Bernard Mango'li and Whyvone Isuza in the midfield.
Ulinzi Stars head coach Benjamin Nyangweso handed Boniface Onyango a start in his squad with Omar Mbongi is missing in the squad.There only chance of the game came in the .
The draw ended their six-game losing run against Ulinzi Stars in the league but were left ruing missed chances as the duo settled for a barren draw in their midweek Kenyan Premier League match at the Machakos Stadium, Wednesday afternoon.
A resolute defensive performance from Salim ‘Shitu’ Abdalla and Robinson Kamura ensured Leopards took a point and a clean sheet while the Soldiers will feel a wee bit grateful to Fiamenyo for his missed chances.
Leopards could have taken the lead inside two minutes but their two-goal striker Gilbert Fiamenyo volleyed over with only Saruni to beat.
The visitors were given some reprieve when goalkeeper James Saruni escaped a booking after handling the ball just outside his box with the referee awarding no less than a freekick. Robinson Kamura, often deadly in such situations, stepped forward but directed his effort straight at the wall.
It was one moment in a good 10-minute spell for Leopards who had pinned the Soldiers in their own half but could not capitalize.
Evans Amuoka had Ulinzi’s best chance of the half when he beat Leopards’ offside trap but after advancing towards the danger zone, he opted to look for a teammate inside the box when having a go could have been the better option as Salim ‘Shitu’ Abdalla cleared the danger.
On the other end, Fiamenyo was presented with another chance as he robbed Geoffrey Kokoyo of the ball, rounded keeper Saruni but a moment of hesitation saw Brian Birgen made a timely interception and clear the ball for a corner which was wasted.
With the first half time running out, the Ghanaian thought he had given Ingwe the lead but he was correctly ruled offside, much to the disgust of the Leopards fans who were scarcely spread across the Machakos Stadium.
The one minute added time wasn’t just enough for any of the teams mount one more attack as they retreated to the dressing room evenly poised.
There was barely any goalmouth action in the next half hour save for a skied effort from substitute Andrew Tololwa who had replaced Marcellus Ingotsi before the restart.
Another substitute, Cliff Kasuti almost grabbed Ulinzi their opener and perhaps the winning goal when he met a deep cross from John Kago at the far post but Ian Otieno spread himself big and made the save.
Two minutes later, Fiamenyo stung Saruni’s palm with a ferocious right from drive, the keeper making his best save of the match. There was to be no goal though despite four minutes additional minutes as the duo settled for a point which they both deserved.
AFC Leopards Starting XI: Ian Otieno, Robinson Kamura, Salim Abdalla,Marcus Abwao, Duncan Otieno, Mangoli Bernard(C), Dennis Shikhayi , Allan Kateregga , Whyvone Isuzza, Marcelus Ingotsi , Fiamenyo Gilbert
Subs: Andika Gabriel, Ramadhan Yakubu, Mao Ellias, Nyakha Haroun, Andrew Tololwa, Mawira Joshua
Ulinzi Stars Starting XI: James Saruni, Brian Birgen, Geoffrey Kokoyo, Mohamed Hassan Oliver Rutto, Stephen Ochollah, John Kago, Boniface Onyango, Samwel Onyango, Daniel Waweru, Evans Amwoka
Subs: Finius Odhiambo, Alex Masinde, Benson Sande, Churchil Muloma, Cliff Kasuti, Enosh Ochieng