By Belinda Maska
Against all odds, a nine-man AFC Leopards proved their critics wrong after reaching the finals of the Cecafa Nile Basin soccer tournament after trouncing Burundi’s Academie Tchite 2-0 in Sudan.
The Kenya Big-Cats will now face off with SC Victoria University of Uganda in the finals slated for Wednesday June 4th in Khartoum.
The Ugandan’s sailed t the finals after edging out their hosts Al Ahli Shandi with a solitary goal in a late kickoff match.Muzamir Mutyaba scored the match winner late in the 72nd minute from a goalmouth melee.
A moment of madness crept in when AFC Leopards were reduced to nine men after Noah Wafula and Bernard Mangoli were send off by Somali referee Hassan Mohammed.
Wafula was in the wrong books for slapping Academie Tchite defender Ngando Omer four minutes to the break
Mang’oli became the second casualty after fighting Academie’s defender Manishimwe Alain. The two Ingwe players will now miss the finals slated for Wednesday at the same venue.
Uganda international midfielder Musa Mudde put Leopards into a 58th minute lead before Michael Khamati extended the lead in the 78th minute to make it 2-0
Apart from Cecafa top brass, and several Kenyans residing in Sudan.the match was graced by AFC Leopards Chairman Allan Kasavuli who came along with club striker Allan Wanga, who was with Kenya’s Harambee Stars that played in Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations [AFCON] qualifier against Comoros.
Wanga is in Khartoum to finalise talks with a top club ( Al Merriekh) which is interested in signing him. The club is said to have facilitated his flight to Khartoum for talks after touching down from Comoros.
AFC Leopards is the only team that has enjoyed a 100 percent unbeaten run having won four consecutive matches.They registered straight victories of 2-0 against Rwanda’s Etincelles, Mbeya City 2-1, Ethiopia Defence 3-2, Burundi’s Academie Tchite` 2-0.
AFC Leopards head coach Pieter De Jongh said despite the win, it was not an easy drive for them.He challenged his players to make history by delivering a match winning performance and give starving Ingwe fans their first trophy this year.
The Government of Sudan in conjunction with sponsor’s Nile Basin have catered for all the expenses during the competition with winners expected to bag $30,000,(Kshs. 2.5m) and runners-up $20,000 (Kshs.1.72 m) while $10,000(Kshs. 860,000) await the third winner.