ASHIHUNDU: Coming season holds promise for Leopards - Daily Nation

Coming season holds promise for Leopards

Monday November 20 2017

AFC Leopards striker Vincent Ouma (left) celebrates his goal with teammate Musa Mudde during their Sportpesa Premier League match against Chemelil Sugar  on November 12, 2017 at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

AFC Leopards striker Vincent Oburu (left) celebrates his goal with teammate Musa Mudde during their Sportpesa Premier League match against Chemelil Sugar on November 12, 2017 at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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Permit me to express my gratitude and appreciation to the players, technical staff and the management of AFC Leopards for surprising many by finishing the league in position eight.

Hey, do not get me wrong! I know Leopards, who have won 13 league titles, just three shy of our loud in-laws, should be consistently challenging for top honours. But this has been a rather difficult year for the great Ingwe.

We were in fact at one time battling to avoid relegation - what an ignominy!

So, you will understand when I laud the boys for finishing in the top eight.

And while congratulate them for bagging the 2017 GOtv Shield, Leopards became record seven-time winners of this annual tournament and will consequently represent Kenya in next year’s Confederation Cup.

Before I go on, Gor should know that even we Leopards are record holders of titles. Anyway, I digress.

We had a few problems at the beginning of the season that must be sorted our right now to avoid struggling in the coming season as has been the case over the last few years.

Ingwe were literally down and out just a few months ago until veteran coach Robert Matano stepped in to steady the ship.

With his wisdom, the man who led Sofapaka and Tusker to league titles restored Ingwe’s dwindling prestige.

Finishing with 45 points from 34 games and qualifying for the Top Eight was a consolation to the long suffering Ingwe followers and a sign that other titles are on the way sooner or later.

Congratulations to Matano’s team for being devoted to football and working together. I also hail them for their decisions taken collectively.

I must also congratulate the captain, Duncan Otieno for making sure everything worked smoothly.

Otieno played his role of co-ordinating and listened carefully before acting. He led by example.

Our struggle to remain in the league may ultimately prove to have been a blessing in disguise to AFC’s management. Just like Thomas Edison found out many ways of not inventing a light bulb until he made his famous invention, the Leopards administration must surely have found out how many ways not to run a club this season.

The now should know in which direction to go and what to do to return this great club to its heady success-laden days

Now I have to say this, reluctantly. Congratulations to our pesky neighbours for clinching the league. You guys are beginning to establish a disturbing supremacy over us which is hard to accept. We will have to resist this next year.

Gor should in fact be made aware that tough times are coming their way. Their perpetual three-points donors Western Stima and Muhoroni are no longer in the league.

I want to warn them that Ingwe will be their most dangerous adversaries next season, and we just like it that way.

Coach Matano has a scary rebuilding programme that will see a different Ingwe that will be relying heavily on experienced, championship winning players including a few notable foreigners.

I can almost smell the fear from the Green Army. Chortle!

Matano is planning early assembling of a team with enough experienced players to choose from.

After making his anticipated off-load Matano will ensure those retained stay on their toes even as quality is injected in the den.

Leopards should go ahead and do Kenya proud in the Confederation Cup.

At least let us go beyond the preliminary rounds in the knowledge that our brothers Gor will never best us on the continental front. They are ripe candidates for early elimination.