AFC Leopards will usher in the new season with a testing match against Kariobangi Sharks on Sunday afternoon in the Kenyan Premier League.
The new KPL season kicks off much earlier than usual, following a directive issued by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in an effort to align with the August-May football system in European Leagues; with the format expected to be fully adopted across the continent by 2023.
The new raft of changes will also see the Africa Cup of Nations shift from January-February to June-July, with the 2019 edition of the biennial competition being the first under the newly adopted system.
2018 has been an outstanding year for Kariobangi Sharks, as William Muluya’s side not only won two trophies but also qualified for the CAF Confederation Cup—the second tier cup competition on the African continent.
Sharks impressively won this year’s edition of the SportPesa Shield Cup having mounted an impressive comeback to beat Sofapaka 3-2 in the final played in late October. Securing the Shield Cup meant that Kariobangi booked their date with KPL champions Gor Mahia in the Super Cup curtain raiser of the season; a match in which they won.
The game was always expected to be a pulsating encounter, given the recent bad blood between the two sides. Other than the fact that Kariobangi Sharks knocked out K’Ogalo on their way to securing the SportPesa Shield Cup last season, the Nairobi-based club was also responsible for ending Gor’s seven-month unbeaten run in the KPL during the last campaign.
With the stage set and the battle lines drawn, Gor Mahia dominated the opening proceedings despite not having a head coach following the resignation of Dylan Kerr. The introduction of Sydney Lokale in place of Fidel Origa proved to be the changing point in the match, as the forward scored the only goal of the encounter to hand K. Sharks another famous win over Gor Mahia.
Receiving the ball from Patilla on the left flank, Mazembe briskly breezed past two Gor Mahia players before looping the ball to left-back Nixon Omondi who picked Lokale with an inch-perfect cut back cross. Lokale gracefully controlled the ball, leaving two Gor defenders for dead, before brilliantly curling the leather into the back of the net in the 53rd minute: the strike without question an early contender for goal of the season.
AFC Leopards vs. Kariobangi Sharks betting predictions
Kariobangi Sharks have stretched their fine form from last season into the new campaign, as they thrashed Arta / SIHD of Djibouti 6-1 in the first leg of the preliminary round of the CAF Confederation Cup, in late November.
Ingwe will be hoping to end their 20-year wait for the Premier League trophy this season, but their campaign could be off to a labored start after their newly appointed Serbian head coach, Nikola Kavazovic, reportedly left the country to attend to his ailing father.
AFC Leopards vs. Kariobangi Sharks recent results
Kariobangi Sharks 3-1 AFC Leopards (September 18, 2018)
George Abege 13’
Duke Abuya 53’
George Abege 65’
AFC Leopards 1-1 Kariobangi Sharks (April 24, 2018)
Francis Imbaya Manoah 77’
Whyvonne Isuza 89’
Kariobangi Sharks 0-0 AFC Leopards (October 7, 2017)
AFC Leopards 0-2 Kariobangi Sharks (July 1, 2017)
Ebrimmah Sanneh 51’
Mathew Tayo Odongo 82’
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