AFC Leopards’ chances of qualifying to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup were dealt a major blow following a 1-1 draw against Fosa Juniors of Madagascar in the first leg match played at Bukhungu Stadium yesterday.
The result leaves Leopards with an awkward position as they must recover in time and beat Fosa Juniors or a draw with more than two goals away in the return match set to be played in one weeks’ time.
Leopards were lucky to open the scores after Prince Arko Papa flicked in a long ball from Yusuf Mainge to put the Robert Matano-led side ahead in the third minute to send Bukhungu into wild celebrations. However, the celebrations were short lived after Fosa Junior leveled the scores in the 17th minute through Rado Mbolasoa after he capitalized on Leopards’ defensive blunder to stab in passed Gabriel Andika.
Leopards struggled, playing disjointedly with many misplaced passes unlike their opponents who looked composed, dictating the terms in the midfield and cutting off any supply to Leopards attack.
Fosa looked hungrier for goals and Pierre Micheal should have put the visitors ahead in 23rd minute after he was put through by Andrian Hasina from the left side but his chipped ball went wide with Andika well beaten.
The pressure prompted Matano to throw in experienced Collins Okoth and pacey winger Baker Lukooya for Aziz Okaka and Henry Ifeanyi respectively in the 40th minute.
The changes brought in some freshness for the home team who raided the Madagascan side but their solid defence held on for 1-1draw that gives them advantage for the return match.
“My players were nervous and I believe they are at fault for allowing in a cheap equalizer that leaves us in awkward position in our return leg,” said Matano.
Fosa Juniors coach Bob Koofwijk said he expects a tough return match.