AFC Leopards must secure starting XI sooner rather than later

Wednesday March 18 2020
By PETER LEFTIE

I’ve not had the chance to watch Ingwe up, close and candid since the season kicked off about a fortnight ago, due to pressures of work.

I however had the opportunity to watch the team engage our noisy neighbours in the season opener played at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru about three weeks ago.

In my analysis, this was a game of two halves by two teams that were struggling to gain full fitness and even gel. Collins Okoth “Gattuso”, the former K’Ogalo destroyer and who defected to Ingwe during the December transfer window looked plain overweight, one would have thought he spent the holiday season in a catholic seminary.

Then there was Humphrey Mieno, the former Ingwe and Tusker playmaker now calling the shots in the K’Ogalo midfield, looking hugely unfit and out of sorts.

There is this man in the K’Ogalo defence, Joash Onyango. The fellow looked like he had been in the game for three decades and ought to have retired in the nineties, given the manner he was run rugged by Ingwe’s new Ghanaian acquisition, Prince Arko.

To me, it was not so much about the results on this occasion. More importantly, it was about the two teams getting a rare opportunity to gauge their cohesiveness in a competitive situation.

It was an opportunity for the two teams’ new signings to have a first-hand experience of a derby, more so for AFC Leopards which has within its ranks some of the youngest players in the Kenyan Premier League.

YOUNG PLAYERS

I’m talking about youngsters like Yusuf Mainge, Marvin Omondi, Michael Kibwage, Baker Lukooya, Clyde Shenazi and Jaffery Okaka, to name just a few.

From where I sit, I’m not sure whether the Ingwe technical bench has finally settled on their first XI, given the wholesome changes we witness in every game.

Save for captain Duncan Otieno and to some extent goalkeeper Gabriel Andika, no player seems assured of a starting berth in the current squad.

It worries me because I thought the whole logic of conducting early recruitment was to give coach Matano and his team ample time to gel the team and settle on the starting XI.

Not to say that competition for starting berths is not a good thing, no.

Competition is healthy in any sphere of life so we must congratulate Matano, belatedly for assembling such a competitive squad.

The point here is that frequent changes tend to disrupt consistency.

Having said that, the Ingwe nation must remain steadfast behind this team.

We must rally behind this team in victory or defeat because “it is ours forever.”

Finally, I must sympathise with our noisy neighbours who were attacked by some goons at Kapsoit on the Kericho-Kisumu road after the K’Ogalo-Zoo Kericho midweek encounter.

I must tell those goons that nobody beats our noisy neighbours in a stone throwing contest.

The only way to contain K’Ogalo is on the pitch.