Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Leading clubs’ apathy in cup gifts Leopards

By CHARLES NYENDE

Officially, the Football Kenya Limited Cup final between AFC Leopards and Congo United on Tuesday at City Stadium raised Sh203,800.

Acting FKL secretary Mohammed Thabit announced the figure on Wednesday but said they were yet to calculate the attendance numbers.

With tickets on the day of the match going for Sh200 for centre stand and Sh100 terraces, a conservative estimate would be about 2,000 spectators though the actual figure looked more than double this figure.

This may explain the initial tussle between AFC Leopards and FKL over who was to manage the gates. FKL eventually prevailed.

“FKL insisted on handling the gates during the final yet they were nowhere to be seen during the other matches. There was a stand off but in the end we allowed them to take charge of the match,” AFC Leopards secretary Richard Ekhalie said.

“The FKL Cup belongs to FKL. We realised clubs have been taking the gate collection without remitting anything to FKL. We wanted to make sure that the match was organised properly and gate collections shared accordingly between the finalists after expenses were deducted,” FKL senior vice chairman Titus Kasuve said.

The attendance was undoubtedly one of the biggest for any club match in the country this year and belied the shoddy manner the tournament was treated by most top clubs.

Top clubs withdrew

Without a sponsor, read now prize money, all but two Kenyan Premier League Clubs, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, and almost all Nationwide League sides declined to participate.

The top clubs withdrew after the 84-team draw had been done throwing the tournament into disarray.

This prompted FKL secretary general then, Sam Obingo to write a letter to the 11 clubs remaining in the competition in July stating: “We shall strictly follow the fixture chart based on the draw.

Many Kenyan Premier League and Nationwide League clubs opted out of the championship meaning that some clubs shall have no opponents in the subsequent rounds”.

Leopards were the main “beneficiaries” going through round one, round two and round three without an opponent.

Well-attended final

They defeated Nairobi Stima 2-1 in the quarter-finals, and without an opponent in the semi-finals, sailed through to the final.

Stima had a near similar passage, defeating Gor Mahia 2-0 in the second round, but with no opponent in the third round, moved straight to the last eight against Leopards. Mombasa-based Congo United had more match practice in their campaign.

They had a free entry to the third round where they saw off Bidco before dispatching Homegrown in the quarterfinals and Posta in the semis.

But their dreams of continental representation were dashed by a vastly superior AFC Leopards who trounced them 4-1 at a well attended final on Tuesday.

Consolation goal

Two goals from impressive Congolese Itubu Imbem and one each from compatriot Tumba and Xavier was all the high-riding Leopards needed to book a ticket to next year’s Confederations Cup.

Leopards could even afford to concede a penalty deep in injury time when goalkeeper Victor Omondi foolishly shoulder butted Mwau in the box to allow an obliging Lawrence Nyamboki give Congo a consolation goal via the awarded penalty.

“Getting a ticket to play continental football will give us more motivation. We know we have to strengthen for next season,”

Leopards coach Nick Yakhama said. Qualifying for continental football was a seemingly easy hop for the former football giants.

Playing at this level will be a quantum leap.

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