Saturday, April 14 – 4:15p.m Local time – Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County, Kenya
AFC Leopard’s chase for a first League title in two decades will see them welcome Zoo Kericho in one of only two matches to be played in the Kenyan Premier League on Saturday.
Ingwe head into the match having been held to a 2-2 draw away to Nzoia Sugar during their last Premier League outing, a result that has unequivocally left the 13-time KPL champions on the back foot, in the race for the title.
Leopards, who were yet to settle during the first few opening exchanges- found themselves chasing the game when Elvis Rupia grabbed the opener for Nzoia in the fourth minute.
The early goal was a wake-up call for Dennis Kitambi’s side, who shifted gears earnestly chasing for the equalizer, but the visitors fell a further goal behind after Rupia doubled the advantage for the Millers in the 39th minute.
AFC however had something to take from the first half after Brian Marita pulled one back for the Abaluhya club, an outcome on which they built on as midfielder Robinson Kamura drew the scores level soon after the interval.
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Seemingly unsatisfied with a draw, both sides unleashed a series of attacks as they relentlessly chased for the winner; AFC for the good of their title bid while Nzoia in an effort to make a name for themselves as giant slayers.
The visitors rattled the crossbar in the 60th minute but could have easily been trailing the match again had Kamura not pulled off a last gasp clearance. Their efforts were nonetheless not enough, as both sides were forced to share the spoils during the four-goal thriller at the Mumias Sports Complex.
The result, coupled with their recent 4-2 defeat to Tusker, means Leopards have now lost five points in their last two games. This has by all accounts damaged their title credibility, as they are now third on the standings with 17 points, two points behind champions Gor Mahia and six behind leaders Mathare United.
With the Premier League table already aligning itself, Ingwe may precariously become the third wheel in the race for the title, as K’Ogalo could with time spring back to the summit of the League, having skipped most recent domestic fixtures as a result of their continental duties in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Of concern for head coach Dennis Kitambi ahead of the tie however, is his side’s profligacy at the back. AFC Leopards have conceded a whopping 12 goals in their last five matches, and have only kept a single clean sheet in their first nine games of the campaign.
Kitambi will be keen to address the defensive frailties before his move to Asia materializes. The Tanzanian is set to be reunited with Stewart Hall at Saif Sporting Club in the Bangladesh Football Premier League, after being offered a role as an assistant with his former boss and mentor.
The interim AFC head coach has already handed in a resignation notice in advance, and is set to play his final match in charge on 5 May away to Chemelil Sugar, despite being offered a permanent deal by the club.
Zoo Kericho on the other hand look doomed to make a return to the National Super League after spending two seasons in top flight. Zoo are currently second from bottom on the KPL log with seven points, after registering two wins and a draw in their opening nine matches.
AFC Leopards vs. Zoo Kericho match prediction
Ingwe have failed to win in their last two games after a purple patch of four successive wins under the tutelage of interim head coach Dennis Kitambi. AFC however look poised to return to winning ways against Zoo Kericho, who are have been latent upfront and hapless at the back.
Prediction: AFC Leopards to win @ Williamhill.com
AFC Leopards vs. Zoo Kericho recent results
Zoo Kericho 1-3 Leopards (September 10, 2017)
Nicholas Kipkirui 79′
Ray Omondi 4′, 30′
Vincent Oburu 54′
Leopards 1-1 Zoo Kericho (May 14, 2017)
Fiamenyo Gilbert 86′
Akiya Stanlaus 59′
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