Fred Likuyani @PeopleSports11
Kenya’s representatives in the CAF Confederations Cup AFC Leopards will have to win their second leg fixture to qualify for the next round following a 1-1 draw at home to Fosa Juniors of Madagascar at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega yesterday.
The result leaves Leopards in an awkward position as they must recover in time and beat Fosa Juniors or at least force a draw of more than two goals away in Madagascar in the return tie in two weeks time if they are to sail through.
Leopards struggled from the start, playing a disjointed match with many misplaced passes unlike their opponents who looked composed dictating the terms in midfield while cutting off any supply to Leopards’ attack.
However, it was Leopards who broke the deadlock, getting a goal out of nothing after Prince Arko Papa flicked in a long ball from Yusuf Mainge to put Robert Matano’s side a head in the third minute.
Their celebrations were, however, short lived as Fosa Junior leveled the scores in the 17th minute through Rado Mbolasoa Naherina after he capitalised on Leopards’ defensive blunder to stab in past Ingwe custodian Gabriel Andika.
Fosa looked hungrier for goals and Pierre Micheal should have put the visitors ahead in 23rd minute after he was put through by Andrianmirado Hasina from the left side but his chipped ball went wide with Adika already beaten.
The pressure prompted Matano to throw in experienced Collins “Gatusso” Okoth and winger Baker Lukooya for Aziz Okaka, and Henry Ifeanyi respectively in the 40th minute. The changes brought some freshness for the home team who raided the Madagascan side but their solid defence held on for 1-1 draw that gives them an away goal advantage for the return match.
“My players were nervous because it was an international match but I blame for allowing in a cheap equaliser that leaves us in an awkward position for the return leg,” said Matano. Fosa Juniors coach Bob Koofwijk is not carried away by the draw and expects a tough return match.