New Leopards man Minnaert set for Premiership bow

Tuesday March 1 2016

AFC Leopards' Andrew Tololwa (left) celebrates his goal with teammate Lamine Dialo on February 14, 2016 during their SportPesa Premier League match against Mathare United  at Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

AFC Leopards' Andrew Tololwa (left) celebrates his goal with teammate Lamine Dialo on February 14, 2016 during their SportPesa Premier League match against Mathare United at Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ISAAC SWILA
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Ivan Jacky Minnaert makes his debut in the Kenyan Premier League at the AFC Leopards’ dugout Wednesday evening when he leads them in a potentially explosive clash with continental flops Bandari at the Nyayo National Stadium from 7pm.

The Belgian took the reins at the den last week and described himself as one who connects with the fans wherever he goes, while also underlining his desire to guide the Kenyan giants who have failed to live up to their big name in the recent past.

“Fighting for this year’s league title is my first target, and by the end of the two years, I want to have developed the talents of many players,” Minnaert said.

“I always have a good connection with fans and I hope that it will be the same here. Even though I cannot compare this club (Leopards) with Rayon (Sports), I know that I will find a way of dealing with the challenges.” The Belgian handled the Rwandan club from where Leopards  management enticed him with an offer to coach the 13-time Kenyan champions.

And on Wednesday, he will get a feel of the local league and the pressure that comes with coaching a powerhouse when he takes his place in the touchline to lead Ingwe against Bandari.

Ingwe had been under Dutchman, Jan Koops. In their opening fixtures, they drew 1-1 with Mathare United and won 2-1 way  to Sony Sugar at the Awendo Green Stadium.

Minnaert will be keen to keep the good start intact. The match is expected to be explosive with Bandari still reeling from the shock of an early exit from the Caf Confederation Cup on Sunday in the hands of DR Congo club, St Eloi Lupopo.

Bandari coach, Twahir Muhiddin, wants his boys to quickly forget the continental disappointment and focus on the league.

“We are disappointed (to be knocked out by Lupopo) but we have to pick ourselves and focus on the next game (against Leopards). We have to prepare well for the match.

“We made several mistakes in midfield where we gave away several balls and were so defensive. We have to rectify that before we play Leopards,” Muhiddin said on Sunday.