21 October 2017

Kenya: AFC Leopards Win Kenyan Cup, Earn CAF Confed Cup Ticket

AFC Leopards will represent Kenya in next year's Total CAF Confederation Cup after beating Kariobangi Sharks 2-0 in the final of the domestic cup, christened the GOtv Shield.

Defender Salim Abdallah and striker Vincent Oburu scored a goal in each half as Ingwe returned to continental football for the first time since 2013.

"We have struggled in the league this season and this was a great way to end the season well. We now focus on ensuring we perform well in continental football next year but I am very happy we have won," AFC Leopards coach Robert Matano, who only joined the team in July said.

Matano had missed the title by a whisker last year as his former club Ulinzi Stars fell 1-0 to Tusker FC in the final. He is delighted that he has finally clinched a domestic title, the last being the league triumph with Tusker in 2012.

Scorer Abdallah couldn't hide his joy after the final whistle, saying he can't wait to play in the second-tier continental club championship.

"I have never travelled outside the country to play football and more so playing at the big stage and now this is an opportunity for me. I can't wait to be there," he said.

Abdallah broke the deadlock with a thumping header after rising highest in the box to meet a corner from Duncan Otieno. AFC Leopards had started better and were duly rewarded for their resilience. Before the goal, they had other decent opportunities to score.

In the fourth minute, Whyvonne Isuza sent Ray Omondi through on goal one-on-one with John Oyemba, but the striker took forever on the ball, allowing defender Geoffrey Shiveka to race back and make a superb tackle.

After going one down though, Sharks turned the pressure on Ingwe and in the 25th minute, Mathew Odongo threatened with a curling effort inside the box which went wide with Gabriel Andika at full stretch.

Five minutes later, Sharks had penalty shouts drowned after Massoud Juma appeared to have been clipped by Andika while lobbying the ball over him but the referee waved play on.

Few minutes after the break, Sharks danger-man Juma managed to shake himself off Abdallah who was tightly marking him all game from a corner, but his header brushed off the defender for a corner.

Later, Sharks coach William Muluya made a tactical switch, pulling out defender Paul Kamau for winger Ovellah Ochieng while Duke Abuya came off for Ebrimah Sanneh, a clear attacking intent.

Ochieng made an immediate impact with his runs, and he came close in the 65th minute with a well curved freekick from the left which came off the upright.

Matano seeing his side hugely pushed back pulled out Ray Omondi for Alex Kitenge in a bid to beef up the attack.

Muluya's men piled the pressure but they were undone eight minutes from time when Oburu slammed the ball into the net after Oyemba's save from an Okaka shot from the right fell on his path to seal victory.

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