Monday, April 16, 2012

Post Match: Thika Utd (A)

AFC Leopards SC cemented their lead at the top of the Premier league table at the one-third stage by beating Thika United 2-1 in Thika.

So how did the press cover the major migration? Here is a full round up.

The Feverpitch team at the Standard wrote:- 

AFC Leopards continued with their march towards the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title after stopping Thika United 2-1 away, on Saturday. 

The win also stretched Leopards’ unbeaten run to a new record of 23 matches. Victor Ochieng’ put Leopards ahead in the 20th minute when he rose above Thika defenders to nod home Bernard Mangoli’s header.

But a defensive lapse allowed Moses Arita to level for Thika United eight minutes later. Veteran striker Mike Barasa made it two for Leopards in spectaclar style in the 32nd minute, scoring from a counter-attack started by Jimmy Bagaye. 

The goal came as Thika were making efforts to go ahead and had won a corner, which, unfortunately, fell on Bagaye and he made a 60m run to feed Baraza, who simply tapped home. Thika were unlucky not to get at least a goal in a second half, which they dominated. 

Francis Kahata’s low ground shot in the 48th minute was too close for Patrick Matasi in goal. But the miss of the half will surely go to Kepha Aswani. 

He found himself unmarked inside the Leopards defence but shot wide even as his markers were expecting an off-side call. 

Then Matasi was forced to stretched wide to keep out Aswani’s goal bound shot. Victor Ochieng was close for Leopards as the second half wore on. 

Thika United coach John Irungu said afterwards: "I want to praise my players for showing a positive mentality today. They were superb but we just wasted our chances. In football it is all about taking your chances." 

Leopards coach Jaan Koops said it will be difficult to beat the club in future. 

Dennis Masinde Wandabwa of Futaa also focuses on the unbeaten run:-

AFC Leopards made it 23 consecutive games unbeaten (ten in 2012) in Kenyan Premier League action by beating Thika United 2-1 in a tough Kenyan Premier League encounter played at the Thika Municipal Stadium, Saturday 14 April 2012.

Victor Ochieng and Mike Barasa scored the goals for Leopards, with Moses Arita on the mark for the home side, all in the first half of play.

Ochieng opened the scoring after 20 minutes, heading home from close range unnatended to, from Salim Kinje's well flighted corner.

Leopards upped the ante and had some good touches, with Mike Barasa going close, but to no avail.

Thika had looked threatening on some occasions and the manner in which they scored showed it; Arita and Francis Kahata combining very well to slice the Leopards defence open and allow the former an easy finish, to make it 1-1 nine minutes later.

With the goal on their side, the home team put pressure on the league leaders, in the event collecting two corners, the second of which would be fatal to them.  

Off the second corner, Jimmy Bageya picked up the ball deep in the Leopards half and strode the full length of the pitch, before setting up Baraza for an easy finish to give Ingwe the lead once again, three minutes later.

The second half was largely dominated by Thika, with Leopards sitting deep and preferring to attack on the break.

Francis Kahata and Clifton Miheso, were especially dangerous, with Harambee Stars defender Dennis Odhiambo running the show from out wide.

Thika's best chance of the half fell to Arita, who was wasteful when played clean through by a delightful chipped ball from Odhiambo, lobbing over the bar with space and time on his side and keeper Patrick Matasi stranded.

That was the last that Thika would do, as Leopards, who brought on Amon Muchiri for Bageya in the last few minutes, defended with ease.

Leopards thus held on to the end, to improve on their unbeaten run and extend their lead at the top of the KPL table to six points over Sofapaka, who play Gor Mahia, Sunday 15 April 2012.
James Wokabi of Supersport writes this one:-
AFC Leopards increased their lead at the summit to six points following a hard-fought 2-1 win over Thika United on Saturday. 

Goals by Victor Ochieng and Mike Barasa gave Leopards all three points moving them to 26 points after ten matches, six ahead of Sofapaka albeit having played a game more. The win also ensured that Ingwe preserved their unbeaten run in the league

They were however made to work for the victory as their hosts gave as good as they got forcing the visitor into resolute rearguard action for most of the second half in an entertaining encounter at Thika Municipal Stadium. 

Leopards were forced to make one change as Allan Wanga was ruled out due to an ankle injury with Barasa getting the nod while Thika welcomed back Moses Arita from injury.

The home boys dominated the opening exchanges but found themselves a goal down on 21 minutes when Ochieng rose highest to powerfully head home a Bernard Man’goli corner past Thika keeper Lucas Indeche. 

Thika should have equalised on 27 minutes when Dennis Odhiamo head a Kahata corner back across goal but Kepha Aswani ballooned the ball from six yards. 

They got the goal two minutes later when Kahata capitalised on an Eric Masika mistake setting up , Moses Arita whose smart finish went in off the post. 

Leopards regained the lead in style on 33 minutes when Jimmy Bageya led a lighting counter attack running 50 yards with the ball before slipping in Barasa who coolly chipped Indeche to make it 2-1. 

Thika wasted gilt edged chance on the stroke of halftime, when Simon Mbugua was put through by a deft Aswani flick but he was unable to beat keeper Patrick Matasi who made a low save. 

The second half was one way traffic as Thika sought an equaliser with Kahata flashing a shot wide after good link up with Cliftion Miheso. 

Kahata was seeing a lot of the ball and he forced Matasi to a fine low save on 62 minutes and from the resulting corner Glay Dirkir headed the ball over at the far post. 

Aswani was next on 69 minutes heading over an Odhiambo cross but Leopards held on to claim vital three points. 

“We are delighted with the win. It was a tough match and we had to defend for long periods but we were comfortable and in the last 15 minutes our goalkeeper played very well collecting all crosses and corner in our area,” said Leopards coach Jan Koops. 

“Football is a game of chances and we wasted so many chances while Leopards scored from a set piece and a counter attack and that is why we lost. But having said that I was happy with the way we played. The boys were able to hold their own despite the huge crowd,” said Thika coach John Kamau Irungu.

Charles Nyende of the Daily Nation or Sunday Nation, as it were, had this piece:-

League leaders AFC Leopards maintained their unbeaten run in the Kenyan Premier League with a hard fought 2-1 victory against tough Thika United at Thika Municipal Stadium.

Victor Ochieng gave Leopards the lead in the 20th minute that was cancelled by Moses Arita eight minutes later before goal-poacher Mike Baraza added the second in the 32nd minute.

The win extended Leopards lead on the league table to six points ahead of second placed Sofapaka - who face Gor Mahia today - while stretching their remarkable unbeaten run in the competition to 23 game.

The duel had built up into a battle of the emerging title contenders with Thika United, unbeaten in their last eight outings, loudly proclaiming they will break Leopards unbeaten run.

This may have been the catalyst that drew out the stubborn will to win for Leopards on this day.

“Thika came to the match talking about winning even before we had played. We knew what we had to do and were only afraid of the poor pitch,” Leopards captain Martin Imbalabala said after the match.

The scripts almost played out according to Thika, as they took the game to Leopards controlling the midfield and creating the early chances on a deplorable playing surface.

But against the run of play Leopards opened the scoring. Ochieng, unmarked on the edge of the box, met Bernard Mangoli’s corner to emphatically head home.

No sooner had the sea of blue on the Thika stands gone into rapture than the home side silenced them, Arita taking advantage of a mix-up in the Leopards defence to send the ball beyond Patrick Matasi.

Clearly on the ascend with the impressive Francis Kahata pulling the strings in midfield, Thika were then caught out by a devastating Leopards counter attack.

Jimmy Bageya picked the ball from his area following a fruitless corner kick by the home side to sprint half the length of the pitch before feeding the ball to the supporting Baraza for a cool finish.

The rest of the match was all Thika with Leopards resolutely defending.

Timothy Olobulu of MichezoAfrika with one of the fastest articles filed on the day wrote:-

AFC Leopards extended their unbeaten run in the league after a 2-1 win over Thika United at the Thika Municipal Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Victor Ochieng and Mike Barasa scored for Ingwe as they ensured that they stay on top spot in the league.

In a fast paced match that both teams showed attacking intent, Leopards were the first to hit the back of the net through Victor Ochieng’ who headed in Bernard Mangoli’s corner. The Short Ochieng’ surprisingly rose over the entre Thika defense to head in the opener.

Leopards’ lead lasted only eight minutes as Moses Arita drew the match to parity after capitalizing on some defensive misfortune from Leopards to dig in a foot and draw Thika level to silence the Thika Municipal Stadium tha had been invaded by the Leopards fans.

Five minutes later, Mike Barasa restored Leopards lead when he fired past Lucas Indeche. A quick counter attack gifted Jimmy Bagaye who ran into the Thika half and served an unmarked Barasa inside the Thika box. The prolific scorer put the ball into his favorite left foot before firing past a helpless Indeche.

Thika piled the pressure on Leopards in the second half with Clifton Miheso, Francis Kahata and Moses Arita spearheading the attack.

Five minutes after the restart, Francis Kahata shot was saved for a corner after an interchange of passes with Miheso. Moses Arita had a golden chance in the 58th minute after he beat the offside trap, but his attempted lob alone in the box went over the bar.

Francis Kahata once again saw his shot saved by the impressive Matasi in AFC’s goal.

The Leopards front line’s work was reduced as no balls came frequently through their way with Koops opting for a more defensive midfield.

The win now sees Leopards stretch their lead at the top to 26 points. They are yet to lose a match in the league this far and are 23 matches unbeaten.

KPL website provided the Line Ups:-

ALL were good goals at Thika Municipal Stadium but Victor Ochieng’ and Mike Baraza’s emphasized AFC Leopards’ edge as they beat Thika United 2-1 to brush away the intervention of Moses Arita for the home side.

There was a great atmosphere of football -- defying a terribly poor pitch -- the most appreciative being a throng of Leopards’ supporters who had poured into town.

THIKA UNITED - 22. Lucas Indeche; 31. Simon Mbugua, 15. Dennis Odhiambo, 35. Dirkir Glay, 12. Vincent Nyaberi (captain), 13. Joseph Kuria, 26. Michael Alubisi Luvutsi, 9. Moses Arita, 32. Clifton Miheso, 19. Kepha Aswani, 40. Francis Kahata
Reserves - 1. Joel Bataro, Gk; 29. Frederick Chitai, 6. Michael Bodo, 33. Geoffrey Nairuka, 24. Fahim Mohammed, 25. David Bogere
Scorers - 9. Moses Arita (29’)
Coach - John Kamau Irungu
AFC LEOPARDS - 1. Patrick Matasi: 5. Edwin Wafula, 26. Robert Syongo, 40.Eric Masika, 17. Jonas Nahimana, 4. Martin Imbalambala (captain), 50. Jimmy Bageya (14. Amon Muchiri, 77’), 22. Bernard Mang’oli, 34. Victor Ochieng’, 18. Salim “Kinje” Ramadhan (7. Oscar Kadenge, 67’), 11. Mike Baraza
Reserves not used - 19. Barnabas Tiema, Gk; 6. Abraham Cokie, 8. Laurent Tumba, 15. Francis Chinjili, 2. Edward Seda
Scorers - 22. Victor Ochieng’ (20’), 11. Mike Baraza (32’)
Coach - Jan Koops [The Netherlands]
* * * *
Referee - Sylvester Kirwa
Assistant ref - Aden Marwa
Asst ref - Elias Kuloba
Reserve ref - Moses Osano
Match commissioner - Samuel Omwoyo

So how does the League Table look like? 

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