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Jean Koop’s league leaders fire blanks to throw the chase for the title wide open in Kenya's top flight

AFC Leopards escaped with a barely deserved point after surviving an onslaught from Rangers FC to snatch a goalless draw in a Kenya Premier League (KPL) match played at the Nyayo Stadium on Thursday.

Referee Richard Obare and his assistant was the easier target of the ire of Leopards players and fans, but what they should have all been furious with was the performances they gave out against a spirited Rangers side.

Leopards came into the game hoping to pick up three points and open an eight-point gap at the top of the table but instead found themselves holding on for dear life as Rangers threatened to run away with maximum points.

After a slow start, the game gathered life midway through the first half with Burundian Floribert Ndayisaba forcing an outstretched save from Rangers keeper Victor Omondi in the 30th minute.

Four minutes later, it was the turn of his compatriot Jonas Nahimana to come close, hitting the side netting with a left-footed free kick. Rangers created little but showed a glimpse of what they were capable of with the bulldozing presence of Eric Muranda and the guile of Cameroonian Baldwin Ngwa.

AFC’s deadly forward Allan Wanga came into life as the game headed for a break, shooting just wide. If you expected Leopards to go on the rampage in the second half you would have been surprised.

They nearly took the lead in the 54th minute after Nigerian Emmanuel Chimaroke forced his goalkeeper Omondi into saving a spectacular own goal with his head.

Then in the 62nd minute it was the turn of Edward Ombasa to falter with the goal at his mercy finding himself one on one with Matasi but only managing to hit the side netting.

By this time AFC coach Jan Koops had sent on Jimmy Bageya, Augustine Etemesi and Laurent Ntumba as they desperately sought for the opening goal.

It was however, Rangers' Tony Onyango, who nearly broke the deadlock running onto a good ball from Ngwa before lobbing the ball just over the bar. AFC defender Eric Masika earned a yellow card for remonstrating with the referee.