Proud Leopards incomparable to pretenders Sharks

Monday October 9 2017

AFC Leopards defender Salim Abdalla (left) vies for ball with Kariobangi Sharks midfielder Duke Abuya during their SportPesa Premier League match at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on October 7, 2017. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

AFC Leopards defender Salim Abdalla (left) vies for ball with Kariobangi Sharks midfielder Duke Abuya during their SportPesa Premier League match at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on October 7, 2017. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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We face Kariobangi Sharks in the GOtv Shield final in 10 days time in a fixture that should at the very least redeem what has largely been a mediocre campaign at the den. 

Pardon me, mediocre is an understatement. Actually, this season has been a disaster. 

From the way the process of signing of players was made at the start of the campaign, to the embarrassing defeats at the hands of some very average sides, to that missed opportunity to play Everton FC, this – indeed – has, yet again, been a season to forget.

And if you think that was all, the club has also had three coaches this season alone, including a European coach who came in from Syria and was in charge for a couple of games, then shoved out because he’d apparently “failed the trials.”

All these tabulates to an administrative failure, a charade of sorts, explaining best why the club is currently placed in the unfamiliar bottom half of the SportPesa Premier League standings.

Come to think of it, it’s unimaginable to conceive what would have been if Robert Matano hadn’t showed up.

Come to think of it, some behind the scenes events and the poor performances from the first team this term should be enough to convince our legislators to enact a law that ensures only those with a great understanding and passion for this beautiful game end up in management.

Let’s hold on to that thought, even though we shall revisit.

Kariobangi Sharks; I love the name, and their slogan too, ‘We are Sharks.’  

It is meant to instill some sort of fear in the opponent.

We all know a shark has never been man’s friend, but then, all this shouldn’t intimidate anyone, let alone AFC Leopards Sports Club.

Give it to them though, Sharks have enjoyed an incredible first season in top flight football.

Like it or not, this team is managed by some creative and passionate minds. 

Special mention too for coach William Muluhya, whom I believe is, just like the team, is headed places. 

Their squad also has some exciting players including Masoud Juma, who turned down overtures from Leopards at the start of this season. Patillah Omotto, Ibrimma Sanneh and Pascal Ogweno are arguably just as good as the best talent you can find in this country at the moment.

However, there are some things the club currently lacks and problem is that even money can’t buy them. Things like history, prestige, culture, passion, following, success.

See, the team describes itself only as “a Kenyan Premier League Club based in Nairobi” on its official Twitter account. Leopards on the other hand, are that, and much more.

So, I expect the gulf in class to be showcased come Mashujaa Day, the date of the GOtv final.

After all, Sharks are not Gor Mahia – our nearest challengers -  and even Gor with all their supposed superiority were eliminated from this tournament at such an early stage you tended to wonder how were they allowed to participate in the first place.

And while I have not much faith in the administration, I know all too well coach Robert Matano was born and bred for days like this.

I can entrust him to deliver in this assignment against a team that has not won anything since inception. 

He has delivered in the past, He will deliver again.

Leopards must with this game, and secure a ticket to play continental football next year.

That’s the irreducible minimum for the great club, perhaps the greatest this part of Africa.