Top-three not on AFC Leopards’ mind, says coach Trucha

AFC Leopards’ Jafari Owiti

 AFC Leopards’ Jafari Owiti (left) tussles with Kenya Police’s Kenneth Muguna during their Football Kenya Federation Premier League match at Dandora Stadium, Nairobi yesterday. Leopards won 1-0. 

Photo credit: Chris Omollo| Nation Media Group

AFC Leopards coach Tomas Trucha has downplayed the team’s chances of finishing top three in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKF-PL) standings.

This is despite Ingwe leapfrogging from sixth to fourth on the log with 47 points following their 1-0 over on-form Kenya Police at Dandora Stadium in Nairobi yesterday.

 “Top three is too far because there is a big gap between us and Tusker. We want to try to be top six, that I believe is achievable,” said Trucha.

It was the first defeat Police suffered this year -- a results that increased Gor Mahia’s chances of clinching an unprecedented 21st Kenyan title.

Gor, who top the standings with 63 points, nine more than second-placed Police, are away to KCB today at SportPesa Arena in Murang’a.

Third-placed Tusker closed in to within a point of Police after drawing 2-2 with Nairobi City Stars at Police Sacco Stadium.

Bottom-of-the-table placed Nzoia Sugar did their relegations worries no good after losing 1-0 to hosts Kakamega Homeboyz at Mumias Sports Complex while Sofapaka revived their survival hopes with a 2-1 win over 10-man Posta Rangers at Kenyatta Stadium.

Shabana slipped back to the relegation zone after drawing 1-1 against FC Talanta at Raila Odinga Stadium in Homa Bay, while earlier at Dandora Stadium, Ulinzi Stars bounced to winning ways with a 1-0 win over Bidco United.

Muhoroni Youth

Relegation-threatened Muhoroni Youth battled to a barren draw with visitors Bandari at Muhoroni Stadium, the same scoreline registered by Murang’a Seal and Kariobangi Sharks at SportPesa Arena.

A 74th minute howler by experienced goalkeeper Patrick Matasi was all Leopards needed to bring to an end Police’s 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

Matasi dropped the ball in his net from Victor Omune’s shot.

Police, coached by Salim Babu, had not lost this year, until yesterday.

In fact, the in-form Police had won their last seven matches.

Speaking after the match, Babu vowed to avenge the loss when Police and Leopards again lock horns in the semi-finals of the Mozzart Bet Cup tentatively planned for May 25 and 26.

 “We made a mistake and we have been punished from it. Otherwise we played accordingly to our plan and we were not under any pressure,” said Babu.

 “We will have a different plan and they (Leopards) will not be lucky like today. We will win. The is nothing else because we want to progress to the final (Mozzart Bet Cup).

Trucha praised his goalkeeper Levis Opiyo for producing a man-of-the-match performance.

Tactical match

He said he anticipates a tactical match in the Mozzart Bet Cup.

Leopards have won their last three league matches.

With 18 points from 30 matches, Nzoia must win their remaining four matches to earn a FKF-PL/National Super League (NSL) play-off spot.

Nzoia coach Mike Mururi had earlier said that their target was to finish 16th to qualify for the play-offs.

The third-placed team in the NSL plays in the playoffs, with the winner of the contest, played in two legs, sealing a slot in the FKF-PL.

Muhoroni are 17th with 28 points, just one point adrift of 16th-placed Shabana while Sofapaka are 15th with 31 points.  Talanta are 14th with 31 points.

 (Reporting by Victor Otieno, Cecil Odongo and Domnic Ombok