Ingwe were reduced to ten men in later in the second half after Musa Oundo was sent off.
Kakamega Homeboyz have been crowned the 2023 Elijah Lidonde Cup champions after beating AFC Leopards 1-0 at Bukhungu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Homeboyz secured their spot in the final by overpowering Nzoia Sugar with a resounding 2-0 victory in their semifinal clash on Saturday at the same venue.
AFC Leopards booked their place in the final by narrowly defeating National Super League (NSL) side Mulembe United with a score of 1-0 in a gripping semifinal showdown.
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Both clubs went into the encounter with a point to prove, and the fact that the match was played in Kakamega only spiced up matters even further.
With so much hype surrounding the matchup between two sides with large followings from the western region of the country, both coaches opted for experience in their respective line-ups.
Head coach Patrick Odhiambo continued to show consistency as he named an almost unchanged Homeboyz starting XI from the team that eliminated Nzoia Sugar FC in the semis, while his Leopards counterpart Tomas Trucha brought in his tried and tested. Most notably, Victor Omune was given the nod to marshal the midfield alongside Mousa Oundo.
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The game was played at an exciting tempo and the opening stages of the encounter saw Homeboyz look to assert their authority early on.
The attacking combination of Moses Shummah and Ambrose Sifuna was proving difficult to handle for the Leopards defensive pairing of Emmanuel Lwangu but keeper Levis Opiyo was up to the task as he foiled several of Homeboyz’s dangerous attacks.
Meanwhile, at the other end Victor Omune had a glorious chance to give his side the lead following an exciting build-up. But the 30-year-old failed to guide Maxwell Otieno's superb ball past Farouk Shikhalo.
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Minutes later, Homeboyz were again on the front foot as Ambrose Sifuna made a late darting run into the box, but his unmarked header lacked the required accuracy to trouble Levis Opiyo.
With 35 minutes played, Homeboyz had a golden opportunity to grab an opener after Walters failed to deal with a Homeboyz cross leading to Sifuna being spectacularly denied by a block from Kayci Odhiambo.
At the other end, Leopards came into their own towards the end of the first half, as Homeboyz began to tire. However, they could not take the lead as they went into the interval goalless.
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The resumption of the second half once again saw AFC Leopards look to grab the early ascendency and Trucha saw the opportunity to bring on Victor Otieno in place of Emmanuel Lwangu just after the break.
Nonetheless, with just under an hour played Shummah came agonisingly close to finding the back of the net, but he could not direct the ball goalwards from in front of Opiyo’s goal.
Victor Omune was keeping the Homeboyz defence busy and had another chance to find an opener after being played through by Maxwell Otieno but the ball was thwarted by Shikahlo.
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In the 65th minute, a dramatic incident unfolded as Homeboyz players mobbed the match referee, with AFC Leopards joining in. Players began shoving each other, creating a tense atmosphere that lasted for five minutes.
AFC Leopards were struggling to fashion opportunities as Homeboyz looked comfortable. The counterattack was continually a threat to Abana Abeingo's defenders, and in the 76th minute, Ugandan attacker David Kasirye headed in Stephen Opoku's delivery past Levis Opiyo to make 1-0.
Ingwe launched late attacks in search of an equalizer, but Homeboyz stood firm at the back, and they emerged 1-0 winners as Leopards were reduced to ten men after Aziz Okaka was sent off for a second bookable offense.
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How they lined up:
AFC Leopards: Opiyo Levis, Kaycie Odhiambo, Randy Bakari, Emmanuel Lwangu , Aziz Okaka, Vincent Mahiga, Mousa Oundo, Boniface Munyendo, Miheso Cliff, Omune Victor, Maxwell Otieno
Kakamega Homeboyz: Farouk Shikalo, Brian Wekesa, Brian Chala, Potiphar Odhiambo, Enock Masinza, Francis Omondi, Chris Masinza, Moses Mudavadi, Ambrose Sifuna, Hilary Otieno, Moses Shumah