Lean Leopards stalk bankers

Tuesday March 27 2012

AFC Leopards midfielder Salim Kinje in a past Kenyan Premier League at the Nyayo Stadium. Ingwe tackle KCB at the same venue at 7.30pm on March 28, 2012 at night. Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN.

AFC Leopards midfielder Salim Kinje in a past Kenyan Premier League at the Nyayo Stadium. Ingwe tackle KCB at the same venue at 7.30pm on March 28, 2012 at night. Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN. 

By SAMMY KITULA [email protected]

Ravenous AFC Leopards switch their attention to KCB on Tuesday in an enticing midweek encounter at Nyayo stadium.

The unbeaten league leaders have now won five of their last seven matches but face a dangerously unpredicatable bankers side.

Buoyed by a 2-1 away win against Western Stima over the weekend, Ingwe, who are yet to lose a match in 20 league outings, will want to build on their impressive run. They have scored 10 goals while conceding only two this season.

Already, Leopards’ goalkeeper, Patrick Matasi has rejected fears that they might buckle under the Sofapaka pressure and has urged his team-mates simply to enjoy their League matches.

“I don’t think it’s about holding your nerve, but about going out and enjoying yourself,” the custodian said. “This is because those are the types of players we have.”

Maximum points

Second-placed Sofapaka have collected 17 points, same as Leopards, but with an inferior goal diffference.

A draw is tolerable for the big cats, but it’s definitely not a desirably result. Used to winning now, Leopards’ fans have witnessed a spectacular turn of fortunes since head coach Jan Koops joined the side last year.

And with Sofapaka breathing down their necks, maximum points is what Leopards will need to go for, given that they face the unpredictable Rangers FC in their next fixture on Saturday.

After scoring a brace over the weekend against Stima, centre half Jonas Nahimana will continue to be an important part of the Leopards’ hunting expedition.

The Burundian turned Rwandese’s playmaking talents, including his passing and dribbling, will give him an opportunity to create many quality scoring chances against a Ruaraka outfit defense that is not one of the meanest in Kenyan football. They have conceded five times in six league matches.

Difficult task

With the expected return of Salim Kinje to Koops’ squad after pulling a calf muscle in that Stima win, the tactician has even more offensive firepower at his disposal.

With poven goal getters, Allan Wanga, Victor Ochieng and Jimmy Bageya available to the Dutch, key strategy in this game for KCB will be limiting the scoring chances the free-scoring Ingwe forwards can create.

If the bankers don’t defend well to begin the match, the men in blue-stripped jerseys could score some quick goals that would effectively end the match. On their part, the bankers will not sit and be clawed, but will need to call on their lead striker Jacob Keli to do the damage.

“We will give our best. We have a strong mentality and if we do what we are expected to, then winning the three points won’t be a difficult task,” Keli said.

The league’s sharp shooter added that the match gave him an opportunity of catching up with the current top scorers, John Baraza and Kepha Awsani. Baraza scored twice against Ulinzi Stars for his sixth, while Aswani netted four times as Thika United humiliated Rangers 6-0.