AFC Leopards are the new GOtv Shield champions after putting out a disciplined performance to beat fancied Kariobangi Sharks 2-0 in the final staged at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani in Nairobi on Saturday.
Earlier in the day Sony Sugar came from behind to thump National Super League side Vihiga United 2-1 in the third place play-off.
Defender Salim “Shitu” Abdalla and Vincent Oburu scored Leopards two goals in the absorbing final.
The 13-time league champions got off the blocks running, asking Sharks the questions immediately after the opening whistle.
Leopards coach Robert Matano had been forced by injury to tweak his defense at the last minute and include Lewis Wanami in place of Robinson Kamura who had collected an ankle injury last weekend that ruled him out for four weeks.
This, however, did nothing to deter the big cats who appeared the hungrier side to win the trophy and Sh2 million in prize money.
Azizi Okaka and Oburu were however guilty of squandering several good chances Leopards created in a frenetic opening quarter hour where Sharks were reduced to ball chasing inside their own half.
Abdalla opened the scoring, deservedly so, in the 18th minute when he rose high to head in the ball and spark wild cheers from the blue and white sea on the stands.
Hungry Leopards continued to dominant, as Sharks, much expected of them in this their maiden appearance at this stage, struggled to cope with the atmosphere, perhaps getting the bouts of stage fright.
Mathew Tayo and deadly striker Masoud Juma got Sharks’ two real chances in the first half, but both of them fluffed their chances.
The heavens opened halfway through the second half as the game hung an edge with both sides looking for a break.
Leopards achieved it, their second, when Oburu got on the end of a swift counter on 78 minutes with a thunderous left foot shot from close range to emphatically confirm the 2017 champions.
Inspired Ingwe had earned their ticket to the 2018 Confederation Cup, an event they last appeared in in 2014. You would thus understand the wild celebration by their passionate fans. “Ingwe! Ingwe! Ingwe!” they chanted.