Leopards through against all odds

‘Lidoda Duvha’ won the first leg 4-2 in Giyani a fortnight ago in Giyani, which puts the aggregate score 6-4 in favour of the Limpopo side.

Leopards had to contend with the referee and the hostile crowd for the better part of the match, but with club boss David Thidiela watching from the stands they fought gallantly to secure a 2-2 draw at the Stade Frederic Kibassa Maliba stadium in Lubumbashi.

Lupopo were on the attack from the onset, but the vociferous crowd was stunned into silence in the 16th minute, when David Zulu drew first blood. Leopards defender Humphrey Khoza surged forward and in a desperate attempt to clear the ball to safety, Zulu was left unmarked by the Lupopo and the ball fell kindly to him, all he needed to do was round off the goalkeeper Kakinda Kaniki to slot home from a tight angle.

Towards the interval, the capacity crowd including DR Congo head coach Claude Le Roy witnessed some disgraceful scenes as two Lupopo fans ran from the grandstand to Postnett Omony’s goal and appeared to sprinkle some liquid, muti perhaps, on the net one after the other and ran off the ground back to the crowd. Thidiela was hopping mad when he realised no action was being taken against the two fans.

Nonetheless, the ploy didn’t deter Leopards who continued to fight gallantly despite the unsavoury scenes.

Leopards led 1-0 at the break and the PSL outfit was certainly punching above its weight.

When the teams returned for the second half, Leopards coach Abel Makhubele, who was standing in for Vladislav Heric who remained in South Africa after baulking at the thought of taking a yellow fever vaccination, rang the changes.

Makhubele took off the goalscorer Zulu and the inefficient Davi Banda and put in Kingston Nkhatha and Edgar Manaka.

Leopards were slow in getting going for the start of the second half and Lupopo capitalised when Moses Kwena handled the ball in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Carrington Gomba stepped up and converted from the spot kick and the teams were on level terms in the 53rd minute.

The goal spurred Lupopo on and they went ahead in the 64th minute, but under controversial circurmstances.

Leopards skipper Mongezi Bobe attempted to clear the ball in the box, but miscued and Omony collected the ball thinking it was not a back pass, but the referee had other ideas and gave Lupopo an indirect free kick, which substitute Mpiana Motiti converted from close range.

The Leopards bench was tense in the dying moments as Lupopo kept pushing forward and it didn’t help matters that Omony was struggling with injury. The Ugandan eventually went down and he needed medical attention to his right leg for a few minutes after the 80th minute, but then Leopards were shocked when the referee added eight minutes of injury time.

Nonetheless, Leopards had the last laugh when Nkhatha received the ball in the box after a scramble in the box. He turned to fire home and incredibly, the linesman ruled for offside but the referee overruled him and the goal stood to make it 2-2.

It was to be the final nail in Lupopo’s coffin.

Leopards XI: Posnett Omony; Moses Kwena, Tintswalo Tshabalala, Humphrey Khoza, Vincent Mabusela; Davi Banda, Mongezi Bobe, Tiyani Mabunda, Luyolo Mapolisa; David Zulu, Joshua Obaje

Tiyani wa ka Mabasa in Lubumbashi courtesy of MTN