alexa Leopards back in top league - Daily Nation

Leopards back in top league

Monday November 17 2008

AFC Leopards players during a training session

AFC Leopards players during a training session at Ikulu grounds in Nairobi. Leopards were reinstated to the Kenya Premier League after winning the Nationwide League Zone ‘A.’ Photo/ANTHONY NYONGESA 

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU

Local football giants AFC Leopards are back in top flight soccer after three years out in the cold.

Leopards, one of the most popular clubs in the country, returned to the Kenya Premier League after finishing top of the Nationwide League’s Zone ‘A’ with 60 points, just a point ahead of Eldoret Mahakama.

However, it took a boardroom decision to confirm Leopards ascent. Eldoret Mahakama were punished for being culprits in an abandoned match against Compel FC.

The Eldoret side is also under investigation over match-fixing allegations.

Sofapaka FC, a church-sponsored side, is the other team promoted to the Premier League after winning the Nationwide Zone ‘B’ with 73 points.

Already demoted from the Premier League is Mathare Youth, who have no hope of catching up with the rest of the teams with only one match remaining this season.

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Western Stima, Bandari and Mahakama are battling hard to avoid the big drop from the Premier League.

On Monday, the Kenya Football Federation awarded Compel FC points for their abandoned match against Eldoret Mahakama.

The KFF secretary, Sammy Obingo, said the federation had established that Mahakama caused the abandonment of the match after their players confronted the match referee and started jostling him and his assistant after their third goal was disallowed.

Obingo said Eldoret Mahakama fans invaded the pitch, insisting that the referee counts the goal.

The referee then called off the match in the 87th minute due to lack of adequate security.

“The Match referee had no choice but to call-off the match due to invasion of the pitch by fans,” the SG added.

Obingo says the match referee report concurs with the match assessor’s report, which led to the federation’s the verdict.

“It beats logic as Mahakama only needed a point to qualify for the Premier League, but to the amazement of all, their fans caused the abandonment of the match,” Obingo said.

On behalf of the entire Leopards executive, the club secretary general, Micah Luvutse has congratulated the chairman, Alex Ole Magelo for the team’s success.

However, Luvutse cautioned that the real work has just started, but added that the team has confidence of finishing among the top teams next season.

“We shall embark on a serious players recruitment and strengthen our technical bench and revitalize our branches as we fight to return our international lost glory.

Luvutse thanked the technical bench and players for the hard work.

Club coach, Gilbert Selebwa said it was a hard worked victory adding that he is targeting eight players from Premier League clubs to add punch in the midfield and forward line.

Other congratulations came from a club life member, Okiya Dindi, who asked fans to unit behind Magelo and his executive.

“Let us not allow petty divisions to break our club again.” Dindi said the return of Leopards is good for the whole country.

He gave one hundred thanks to the technical bench and chairman, Magelo who he said ventured where many had run away during ‘the most difficult painful and darkest moments in the history of “Ingwe”.

A Gor Mahia leading fan, DoD Kenyatta said the return of Leopards in the top flight soccer will increase the number of fans watching local league matches.

“I have missed Isukuti beat I’m happy I will be watching Leopards playing next season.”

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