MOMBASA, Kenya – Robert Matano marked his return to the AFC Leopards SC dugout with a bang by leading the limping SportPesa Premier League giants to sink Bandari 1-0 at Mbaraki Stadium in Mombasa.
In Ruaraka, 2010 winners Ulinzi Stars FC took charge of the SPL standings at the expense of overnight leaders, Posta Rangers FC with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Nakumatt FC.
Elsewhere, Former champions Sofapaka FC failed to make ground on the leaders when they were held to a barren draw by Thika United.
Mathare United FC v Sony Sugar FC as well as Kariobangi Sharks FC vs Kakamega Homeboyz FC also producing blanks to round off the day’s action.
All attention on Saturday was on the second coming of Matano at Leopards and the seasoned coach obliged by leading the giants to a first victory in 10 SPL games for Ingwe to lift the club to 11th on the log with 19 points from 16 games.
Marcellus Ingotsi struck the winner in the 90th minute to give Leopards a first win on the road since April 23rd when they enjoyed a 2-1 success at Thika United FC.
Victory was a relief especially for the Ingwe supporters from the Amani Woodley Branch who were injured in a road accident at Voi on their way to cheering their team in Mombasa.
Two-time SPL title-winner Matano took charge of his first game at the 12-time champions since he was summarily dismissed in 2011 and the man popularly known as ‘The Lion’ has wasted little time in instilling the defensive discipline he is reputed for.
Leopards nicked maximum points from Mbaraki with a backs-to-the-wall performance with Matano praising his side for their resilience.
“The players responded well to instructions and generally we had a good game. We still have some work to do, but all in all it was a great day,” the man who led Sofapaka (2009) and Tusker (2011) to the SPL title added.
His counterpart from Bandari, Paul Nkata rued lost chances.
“We had numerous great opportunities, which we did not use to our advantage, and we were eventually punished for it. But we will work on the areas we went wrong.”
In Ruaraka, Samuel Onyango scored his fourth goal of the season in the 49th minute but Ulinzi’s celebrations were short-lived as Joshua Oyoo levelled the matters 10 minutes later.
The match appeared destined to end in a draw until Omar Mbongi found the net with three minutes to go when he fired home a bullet header.
Sofapaka remain five points off the lead after being held by Thika while 2008 champions Mathare are rooted to the bottom after yet another draw and there was no surprise when fifth-placed Sharks and Homeboyz in seventh failed to produce a winner.
Saturday SPL RESULTS
Bandari 0-1 AFC Leopards
K. Sharks 0-0 K. Homeboyz
Thika United 0-0 Sofapaka
Mathare United 0-0 Sony Sugar
Nakumatt 1-2 Ulinzi Stars