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AFC Leopards will now prepare for a do or die battle next weekend when they take on Gor Mahia in the highly anticipated Kenya league derby at Kasarani

Charles Okwemba’s 80th minute goal rescued a point for a below par AFC Leopards as they held on to a 1-1 draw against Nairobi City Stars at the Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday,

AFC Leopards, who were without coach Luc Eymael, seemed lost and they never made much out of the 90 minutes save for a concerted push in the final ten minutes.

City Stars looked comfortable and not under any pressure, John Mark Makwatta giving them the lead on 66 minutes.

AFC Leopards were fast off the first whistle but faded on as the game progressed. Peter Opiyo and Martin Imbalambala never had the command they usually have in midfield and lost many balls thanks to a hard working City Stars midfield made up of Dennis ‘Wise’ Okoth and Justus Basweti.

In the 16th minute, Noah Wafula saw his header go just over from Peter Opiyo’s corner. The Leopards defense was overly concentrating on Jimmy Bagaye with three players on his neck at one given time. While this should have worked in City Stars’ favor in sending more players forward, they never quite used the advantage thus leaving a huge gap infront of goal.

Justus Basweti tried his luck from distance but his shot flew just over. Bagaye nicked another shot in on 27 minutes but again it fell short of the target.

In the 39 minute, AFC Leopards had a decent chance to break the deadlock but Ronnie Kagunzi was at his best to deny Martin Imbalambala. The skipper’s shot had taken a deflection but Kagunzi’s reflex helped him to tap the ball away.

Leopards tried to come alive in the second 45 and just four minutes on Paul Were saw his shot hit the bar after curling the ball well on his favorite left foot. On ten minutes, Were was at it again, this time with a beautiful move on the right before cutting in a sleek pass to Opiyo whose shot was saved by Kagunzi.

Immediately on the counter, AFC leopards survived after Dennis Okoth’s shot from just above the 18 yard area went wide. Okoth picked u[p the pieces after Mark Makwatta’s initial shot was blocked.

In the 62nd minute, AFC Leopards had shouts for a penalty turned down by referee Isaac Ochieng. Paul Were seemed to have been brought down by Arthur Museve after the winger had chested down a beautiful pass from Jonas Nahimana on the right and sprinted into the box beating Dennis Ng’ang’a.

This decision by Ochieng stopped the match as fans pelted objects into the pitch protesting the decision. This stopped the game for around four minutes but normalcy returned after the fans calmed down.

But it was this short break in concentration that would haunt the Leopards, John Mark Makwatta breaking the deadlock with a well taken shot from just inside the box. Justus Basweti had chipped on the pass to a racing Makwatta, with the midfielder controlling the ball before releasing a shot that beat Matasi.

Stand in coach Nicholas Muyoti introduced Dan Wagaluka in place of Noah Wafula and Mike Barasa for Paul Were. Leopards increased in attack in search for the equalizer and they were rewarded ten minutes from time, Charles Okwemba sneaking in at the near post to head in Abdallah Juma’s corner.

AFC raided the City Stars half, Peter Opiyo and Allan Wanga both having their shots go wide from just above the 18-yard area. As much as they pressed hard, it was never enough to earn them the three points.

AFC Leopards will now prepare for a do or die battle next weekend when they face an on form Gor Mahia side in the highly anticipated Kenyan derby.