- Leopards go to avenge 2-1 defeat to Batoto ba Mungu in the first leg
After 41 days without Kenyan Premier League action at Nyayo National Stadium, match time returns on Wednesday night when AFC Leopards host Sofapaka from 7pm.
The Leopards will be gunning for revenge when they meet the Batoto ba Mungu as they aim to get even with the 2009 champions following a 2-1 defeat in their first leg match, incidentally, the last match held before the end of first leg.
Also to stay within the leading pack, AFC must bag the maximum points, which will leave them one point adrift current leaders, Tusker, who have 32 points. Getting Allan Wanga into the game will be key for Ingwe, along with Jimmy Bageya and Paul Were.
Despite the fact that Leopards are going through tumultuous times, Jan Koops is a coach worth emulating. The Dutch has not known victory in the last 74 days-their last was a 2-1 win against Thika United on April 14th-but has still instilled the required desire in the team within the same period.
“We have been training well ahead of the second leg. Definitely, Sofapaka is a strong team with good players, but we have confidence of victory,” Koops said, adding that new recruits Paul Were and Burundian international Floribert Ndayisima will feature in the floodlight match.
However, the tactician will miss the services of first choice goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, who is yet to regain full fitness after a bout of Malaria. Also set to miss tonight’s match is striker Mike Baraza, who, according to Koops, didn’t turn up for the team’s Monday training session.
“I expect my new signings to help in our quest. They have settled down quite fast. However, Matasi is yet to regain his fitness. As for Baraza, I don’t know where he is, he didn’t turn up for our Monday’s training session. We ought to work as a team and every player is fielded out of merit, hence, I won’t field him,” the coach said.
When these teams met last month, Leopards were not in their best form, while Sofapaka were in a rich vein of shape. Everything John Baraza touched turned to goals and Abdalla Juma was on fire with his sweet curlers.
Baraza scored a brace, netting in each half, and Martin Imbalabala Leopard’s consolation in the 69th minute for Sofapaka to end the first half of season tops on 32 points.
When it comes to recent form, Leopards faithful have every reason to worry. Their team has gone for five matches without a win, while on their part, Sofapaka have recorded four straight wins in their recent five league fixtures and have won three of their last five league fixtures against Leopards.
But for Leopards to emerge with the maximum points, they need to shut down John Baraza and Bob Mugalia. When given time and space, Baraza will shred teams. No wonder that he is leading in the top scorer’s chart with 12 goals.
And even though his pace might be waning, he will manage the attacking department with all the efficiency he has in recent years.
“We are ready (for the match). Our aim is to get a win, which will give us a three-point lead ahead of Tusker, who have a better goal difference than us,” Sofapaka’s head coach, Salim Ali said.