AFC Leopards beat Tusker 1-0 in this Football Kenya Federation Premier League the early kickoff match at Thika Stadium on Sunday.
Leopards came in this match as underdogs and the win was only their third win in the opening game of the season in the last ten seasons while they also won back-to-back opening matches in consecutive seasons.
They also beat the same opponents in the 20/21 season opener and they put up a spirited display where in all honesty they created better chances.
This was not the start Tusker had envisioned but without some key players today, there is no reason for them to panic.
The result will also help them rectify some of the mistakes they have before they face continental giants Zamalek in the CAF Champions League after the international break.
AFC Leopards started the game on the front foot, pinning their opponents in their own half and had the first chance to take the lead with Caleb Olilo but his shot was saved by Tusker keeper Brian Bwire.
They continued to counter attack with pace and had another chance when Saad Musa teed up Olilo but his effort narrowly missed the target.
Tusker who had yet to settle then had another scare when Peter Thiongo was left one on one with Bwire but his effort hit the woodwork.
That early dominance finally bore fruit after Thiongo set up Musa at the edge of the box and he curled a magnificent ball beyond the outstretched keeper to give his side the lead.
That early onslaught by Leopards needed stemming and at the half hour mark, Robert Matano hauled off Clyde Senaji for Humphrey Mieno.
At the start of the second half, Tusker then made a triple substitution, introducing Kevin Monyi, Jackson Macharia and Rodgers Ouma for Eric Zakayo, John Njuguna and Shami Kibwana.
Tusker had a goal dissalowed five minutes after the restart but Muchiri’s effort was ruled out for a foul just before the goal.
With a slower start to the half than the first, Leopards had another opportunity to double their lead but Musa saw his effort sail wide. Tusker were then offered a lifeline after Boniface Muchiri was fouled by Esambe in the area and referee Israel Mpaima rightly pointed to the spot.
Muchiri stepped up for the spot kick and after a delayed run up, his effort went narrowly wide with Leopard’s keeper Muchesia well beaten.
With Tusker now having more of the ball, Leopards relied on counter attacks which only lacked conviction in the final third and which on another day would have seen them add more goals.
With ten minutes to go, a measured pass into the box found Macharia unmarked but his effort was too central and lacked enough power to trouble Muchiesa.
Leopards had the final chance of the game deep into stoppage time after another quick attack but Mukanguka’s effort sailed over the bar.