AFC Leopards bounce back to dim Western Stima
A second minute goal from Mike Baraza gave AFC Leopards a deserved but slim 1-0 win over rivals Western Stima in an action packed Kenyan Premier League match played at the Nyayo Stadium on Thursday evening.
Hardly had the teams settled than lethal striker Mike Baraza scored from a left foot shot after a neat through pass from Jimmy Bageya to give AFC Leopards a solitary goal that stood to the end. Mark Sirengo’s effort to equalize for the visitors past the quarter hour mark hit the dead end.
A 41st minute careless tackle by Western Stima’s Edwin Barasa on a hard working Jimmy Bageya left the AFC Leopards fans crying for a penalty but their calls were ignored by center referee Damaris Kimani.
The second period saw Western Stima start strongly with a well-placed free kick but this didn’t last for long as AFC took over and dominated good spell of the proceedings. Good combination between Jimmy Bageya, Charles Okwemba,Mike Baraza and Oscar Kadenge provided a hard nut for the Bukhungu based Western Stima to crack.
AFC Leopards’ new signing Charles Okwemba was denied by Western Stima custodian David Juma after Mike Baraza had set him up through a back-heel. Bernand Mangoli had the best second half chance in the 72nd minute but his final shot missed the post by a whisker as Ingwe pushed upfront to seal off the match.
A defensive mix-up at AFC leopards defense almost gifted Western Stima an equalizer but keeper Bernard Tiema did well to deal with successive corner threats and a promising free kick from Kevin Amwayi.
The match ended with Western Stima still pushing for an equalizer much to the relief of the AFC fans and new coach Jan Koops. A cause of concern for Coach Koops was the injury sustained by Mike Baraza after a rebound ball hit him direct in the face. Baraza was stretched off and immediately whisked to a standby ambulance for further medical attention.
The win served as a revenge for Ingwe who lost their last match to Gor Mahia as Western Stima won the first leg fixture and pushed AFC two positions up in the KPL Standings to 10th with 22 points after 18 matches. Western Stima is 7th with 26 points after same number of matches.
In the post-match interview, Western Stima coach Henry Omino said his boys lacked lethal power upfront and termed AFC as deserving winners.
"We were caught flat footed early in the match. They deserved to win. We need to work on our finishing but we played well in the second half", Said Omino.
New AFC Coach Jans Koops was a happy man after earning three points which he said will serve as motivation for the next game.
“I feel very happy. This is motivation for the next game. It was not a good game but we have 3pts", Said an elated Koops.