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The worst now behind for AFC in league race

Monday September 4 2017

AFC Leopards fans react during their SportPesa Premier League match against Gor Mahia at Nyayo Stadium on August 27, 2017. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |

AFC Leopards fans react during their SportPesa Premier League match against Gor Mahia at Nyayo Stadium on August 27, 2017. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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What a disappointment for our noisy neighbours, commonly known as K’Ogalo!

They have beaten us 3-0 twice this year, and last week, they were hoping to thrash us again in the Kenyan Premier League. This was a game Gor Mahia should have lost heavily, but escaped with a 1-1 draw.

AFC Leopards have put aside last season’s struggles and are no longer fighting relegation but are aiming to finish among the top five. We badly want to win the GOtv Shield to qualify to represent Kenya in 2018 Caf Confederation Cup. Technically, AFC Leopards are coming up well despite the current division in the club management. For the short time Robert Matano has been coach, he has worked well with members of his technical bench, giving them guidance.

At the Den, Matano carries a lot of responsibility, even acting like the club’s chairman and secretary. The team is now strong and confident and I’m convinced that Ingwe will beat Vihiga United later this month and qualify for GOtv final. Against Gor a week ago, Ingwe struggled to convert their chances into goals but the trend has changed.

With the coming of Alexis Kitenge, Ingwe’s future looks bright. The Burundian has promised to keep the fans happy by scoring goals. Fitness level of players in the squad has improved because of the professional approach employed by the coaching staff.

No doubt, Matano has players who believe in him and who can go on to achieve great things at the club. Although the team lies 13th in the table of standings with and 24 points after managing six wins in the season with six draws and nine losses, the squad has performed well in recent matches.

The technical bench needs to stay focused and keep strive to finish in the top five. The strength and capability is there and the players are doing what is expected of them. In the few games I have watched, I have identified some of the best performing players in the team. I had initially given up on Samuel Ndung’u but I’ve realised that although he has not always been included in the first team, his runs are amazing whenever he is given a chance.

Defender Dennis Sikhayi is also very good. He is always determined to give his best, and is rarely out of position. He stood out in ‘Mashemeji derby’ denying K’Ogalo strikers room to penetrate.

Robinson Kamura, Abdalla Salim and Mike Kibwage also impressed while Gabriel Andika stood firm between the posts.

Captain Duncan Otieno and Whyvonne Isuza and Victor Majid were very instrumental in their positions. Vincent Oburu and the speedy Marcellus Ingotsi were also highly rated. Indeed, the entire playing unit performed well.

Linkman Harun Nyakha, who did not play, has on different occasions earned a starting place under Matano.

Despite a few errors, the youngster played a significant role in the match which Leopards won 1-0 against Tusker. Ingwe needs about four quality players to regain its lost glory. But the club should not behave like Premiership giants Arsenal who promised to sign more stars but ended up signing none.

In the last transfer window, Ingwe could not get Wesley Onguso and Rwandan international Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza due to leadership wrangles. Ugandan Khalid Aucho was due to join AFC Leopards, but Tusker took him before he ended up at K’Ogalo.

Striker Paul Were and winger Clifton Miheso left the Den due to deep divisions. Leopards management must seek more sponsorships to supplement what they get from SportPesa.