Koops replaces Logarusic at AFC Leopards

Tuesday January 5 2016

AFC Leopards new coach Jan Koops and his predecessor Zdravko Logarusic  during a past Kenyan Premier League match between Gor Magia and AFC Leopards. PHOTO: NATION MEDIA GROUP

AFC Leopards new coach Jan Koops and his predecessor Zdravko Logarusic during a past Kenyan Premier League match between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards at Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO: NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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SportPesa Premier League title hopefuls AFC Leopards have announced the return of Jan Koops as their head coach four years since they parted ways.

The appointment was made by the interim management committee of the club formed by the Mathew Opwora- and Dan Mule-led factions in accordance with a directive issued by the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT).

The Dutchman starts his job on Wednesday at Marist College, Karen, where Leopards open their season’s training.

Koops will get a chance to watch his new charges in a competitive setting when they play a friendly match against Mbooni Combined in Mbooni, Makueni, on Saturday.

Koops returns to the troubled Leopards after he was acrimoniously sacked in 2012 despite steering Ingwe to a third-place finish.

Then, several club officials had questioned his fielding and tactics.

He will be assisted by former Kenya international midfielder Tom Juma, who also played for Gor Mahia and Leopards.

NOT HAD A COACH

Leopards have not had a coach since Croat tactician Zdravko Logarusic abandoned the club over payment issues, leaving his assistant, Ezekiel Akhwana, to handle the team.

Akhawana was not retained as the Leopards management named former Utali coach Joseph Milimu team manager while John Busolo returns as the goalkeeper trainer.

“I’m taking up the job immediately because AFC is my team and will remain my team forever,” a delighted Koops said. “I’m happy they have given me an assistant (Tom Juma) who understands my tactics.

“The last time I was in charge at Ingwe I helped them finish third; but the problem with Leopards and Gor Mahia is, only number one counts.”

PLAYING GOOD FOOTBALL

He added: “But I’m happy they had started playing good football after adopting my style. I’m kindly asking the fans to give me time to perform.”

Uncertainty greeted Leopards going into the new season with the two factions fighting over the management of the club.

On December 22, the SDT directed that each of the two factions name three members from their side to an interim management committee that would run the club. In conjunction with a moderator, it will be in charge for 120 days, after which elections will be held.

The committee — comprising Mule, Peter Lichungu, Felix Shitsama, Mathew Opwora, Maurice Osundwa and Noah Wanyama — is charged with general management of club, including recruitment and welfare ofplayers, travel and training logistics, and finance.

Leopards finished seventh in the 2015 season and were heavily affected by lack of finances.