Rangers and AFC misfire to a barren draw
A missed penalty by Rangers Captain and misfiring by AFC Leopards striking force ensured the two KPL teams share spoils in an entertaining match played on Friday evening at Nyayo stadium and graced by Prime Minister Raila Odinga who joined the fans at the start of the second half.
AFC Leopards fired the first salvo from a close range shot by Jimmy Bageya in the 7th minute but former Ingwe custodian Lawrence Webo denied the Ugandan an early goal. Rangers replied to the early attacks in minute 20 through a curled free kick shot from Juma Abdalla but AFC Leopards second choice keeper Patrick Matasi proved his pedigree with a fine save.Matasi a former West Sugar goalkeeper got his first test of the premier league after AFC Leopards’ first choice goalkeeper Barnabas Tiema pulled an injury before the match
Jimmy Bageya went close again in the 31st minute following a good set up by Mike Baraza.Okwemba then presented Bageya with a good through ball past the goal line but the short Ugandan couldn’t connect to the ball.
Former Tusker man ,Oscar Kadenge presented Charles Okwemba with a tap in opportunity in the 38th minute but the former Rangers man misfired to send both teams to the break still deadlocked at 0-0.
After the break, AFC came back firing from all cylinders with Jimmy Bageya squandering the first second half chance when his left foot let him down and was unable to shoot. Mike Baraza tried a follow up but his shot went up past a comfortable Webo who is back in action after an injury lay off.
Rangers suffered a set back after Abbas Akiyemi got injured after a tussle inside the box and had to be substituted with Noah Misiko.Misiko almost made an immediate impact but AFC defense outwitted him.
On fire AFC Leopards continued pressing hard with Oscar Kadenge trying a long shot that keeper Webo parried out for a corner in the 71st.The corner missed the target much to the relief of rangers who were facing marauding attacks minute after minute.
Dutchman Jans Koops threw in Samuel "Misee" Mwangi in place of Kinje in the 76th minute to bolster his midfield. Rangers Coach David Ouma replied immediately by bringing in Jeff Odongo for Edwin Mwaura.
Rangers’ well timed attacks presented a God sent opportunity for the cash strapped team to notch what would have been a winner after Dan Kago was brought down by Martin Imbalambala inside the box with ten minutes remaining. Center referee James Kagara pointed to the penalty spot. Captain Pascal took the spot kick but the post denied him despite beating keeper Patrick Matasi.
The miss seemed to reenergize the partisan AFC Leopards crowd who urged their team on. Rangers got another set back after Tshiyoyo was shown a red card following a second yellow card with three minutes to the end of normal regulation time.
AFC Leopards almost grabbed a late goal deep into injury time but the heavens seemed numb to their prayers after several misses to end the match barren.
In the post match interview, Rangers Coach David Ouma said "Am happy with the performance of my players. We just needed one opportunity to utilize it and kill the game".
AFC Leopards coach Jan Koops was happy that his team "played football" in both halves.