Makwatta hat-trick inspires Leopards past Zoo

AFC Leopards were on Sunday 5th- 4-1 winners over Zoo FC from Kericho in a round 16 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match played at the Bukhungu Stadium from 3 pm Kenyan time.

John Makwatta grabbed three in the tie that also had Mukhekhe Boniface and Neto Collins grabbing one apiece.

Derrick Anami stood behind a 6th-minute free kick in the match’s first real foray up front but could not get it on target. In the 13th minute, Leopards took the lead.

Boniface Mukhekhe had been unmarked as Austine Odhiambo drove in an in-swinger in the way of a corner kick and Mukhekhe, who had been active on Leopards’ attacking right-wing, rose the highest to head home for 1-0.

Odhiambo would almost make it two when after slicing through the Zoo defense, had his shot parried away by goalkeeper Brian Lumumba for a corner kick. A second goal was, however, just near.

Murabwa Matini had obstructed Collins Shivachi’s run toward Zoo defense and a foul called back for a Leopards free kick in the 24th minute. John Mark Makwatta stood behind it and made no mistake in finding the top left corner for 2-0.

The visitors came close in the 34th minute when Dennis Ongeri got something to a Kepha Ondati free-kick but this went agonizingly inches wide with Ezekiel Owade in goal for Leopards, not troubled much. With four minutes of the first half left, Ondati was to claw one back after a lapse in concentration by the Ingwe defense had set him one on one against Owade. He blasted the ball across Owade’s chest as Leopards maintained a healthy 2-0 lead at the break.

Dennis Ongeri (L) contests for possession against Leopards’ Austine Odhiambo [IMAGE- Fabian Odhiambo]
Second Half

Zoo threw in Ernest Kipkoech for Jeffrey Gichana at the break, and the long-serving Zoo anchorman handed the captain’s armband to Ondati. Five minutes after the restart is all the visitors needed before they could claw back as Neto Collins rose to head home an Ondati corner kick.

On the other end of the field, Lumumba was put to task as Leopards sought to bury the tie. Twice Boniface Mukhekhe struck from close range and twice Lumumba kept Zoo in the tie. All this happened in the space of three minutes as the clock ticked towards the hour mark.

In the 67th minute, the hosts restored their two-goal cushion when Lumumba failed to deal with a Robinson Kamura free-kick, Makwatta was on hand to clean up the mess.

Eugene Mukangula congratulates Makwatta for the opener [IMAGE- Fabian Odhiambo]
Tom Juma was on the touchline for Ingwe, and withdrew Vincent Oburu for Jeffary Owiti in the 73rd minute. Four minutes later, Zoo went to sleep and Makwatta got his third of the tie. Leopards were 4-1 and sailing easily through the contest.

The home crowd went wild when Marvin Nabwire-coming from a long injury lay-off, was thrown in for Eugene Mukangula in the closing stages of the game.

Ondati had the chance to do some damage control for the visitors with an 85th-minute free-kick but Owade punched his thunderous drive back into play.

Leopards bossed possession in the final minutes of the game as they took a massive 4-1 victory.