On a day that AFC Leopards’ fans showed up at “Tok Komwanda” in intimidating numbers, their technical bench sabotaged a good chance for silverware in a season that they need to redeem their spots. May be I am punching the wrong bag yet Sofapaka came out with a hunger for continental football next year, and walked into the final with a 2-0 win.
I did not watch the whole match, because my Luhya instincts told me the match will be abandoned. So I have an account of the second goal, but track with me. De Jong sent out all former Sofapaka players in his squad except Abdalla Juma. He played Wamalwa on left back and paid for it when Agwanda cruised past him to score in the 26th minute.
Where did Ingwe miss it? By fielding a midfield akin to having players without left legs or rather with both legs being right legs. Their midfield was as disjointed as leopard spots. Humphrey Mieno played the engine, while Mang’oli was on the left flank and Musa Mudde on the right. Imbalambala was in front of the defense.
Mang’oli is has a playmaker mind with a good pass, though not as good as Mieno, but he can win balls which Mieno is poor at. Mudde can be a good central midfielder though on this day he looked lost in the first half, neither was he intercepting passes nor initiating forward moves. Mieno was all over but Sofapaka’s Odipo pushed him deep into his own half most of the times. Imbalambala was left as the spoiler but he never ventured out of his position, sitting back to soak in Sofapaka pressure.
On the flipside, Sofapaka had Odipo in front of the defense and the boy made sure Mieno’s legs did not execute what his mind synthesized and his eyes saw. He was a typical spoiler. Johnson Bagole though as lost as Mudde, provided the moving screen cover that misguided Ingwe players. His slow response meant Miheso had to come from the left flank to support him. The man of the day was Ndolo, playing out of position on the right but effective nevertheless. He won the balls and sent out good passes, like the pass that picked Agwanda for the first goal. Miheso kept bringing in crosses from the left and these four players won the battle for Batoto ba Mungu.
The other area where the two teams were miles apart was in the striking. They were playing 4-4-2. Ingwe had Wafula and Ikenna upfront while Sofapaka had Agwanda and Fiston. Leopards’ had two strikers with more brawn than brain power while Sofapaka had Agwanda for the brawn and Fiston with soft power. Sofapaka duos were playing and passing the ball to each other while Ingwe forwards were more concerned with running for goal.
That is how Sam Timbe charges managed to outplay Leopards’ leaving De Jong at sea, but he should blame himself for it. In the second half though Mudde began to play his role but now Mieno was lost. The two cannot be paired in the midfield; they made Ingwe look so disjointed.
Sofapaka will now meet Posta Rangers who beat West Kenya Sugar in the finals.
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There is a big difference between Leopards’ and Gor fans. Where Gor fans go out as an eagle, straight to the prey leaving people screaming after them, Ingwe fans are more of a leopard. They track the prey slowly playing isikuti drums, the prey can even start shaking his shoulders and nodding his head only to be shaken up by kicks and blows. Ask Sofapaka Team Manager Emmanuel what happened to him.
It was so unfortunate that policemen were busy watching football as AFC Leopards’ fans picked him from the stands roughing him up while emptying his pockets as they sent him out of City Stadium. These are acts that still prove that Kenyan football still has a long way to go. Players are offering their best, while the fans are not fanning up their efforts.