ASHIHUNDU: Leopards sure bet to play at Goodison Park - Daily Nation

Leopards sure bet to play at Goodison Park

Monday June 4 2018

Thika United midfielder Michael Mutinda (left) charges past AFC Leopards' Jafari Owiti during their SportPesa Premier League match at Thika Subcounty stadium on May 20, 2018. PHOTO |  VINCENT OPIYO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Thika United midfielder Michael Mutinda (left) charges past AFC Leopards' Jafari Owiti during their SportPesa Premier League match at Thika Subcounty stadium on May 20, 2018. PHOTO | VINCENT OPIYO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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Ingwe face Singinda United of Tanzania on Tuesday in the SportPesa Super Cup whose winner will pocket Sh3 million in prize money and earn a ticket to play English Premier League side Everton next month.

The match to be played at Goodison Park will give our young promising players an excellent chance to market themselves to the world.

I am not making assumptions here. Of course Ingwe have the capacity to emerge winners and earn the historic trip to England to play Premiership opposition and not our noisy Mashemeji.

To win and play at Goodison Park back yard is such an opportunity many don't get.

In all, the regional tournament features Kenya’s Kariobangi Sharks, Simba of Tanzania and their compatriots Singinda, Kenyan champions and reigning title holders Gor Mahia, upstarts Kakamega Homeboyz, Young Africans from Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar’s Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi (JKU).

What is important isn’t taking part but winning it. Winning it is important, because that is what Ingwe fans are waiting for.

It is also something that will be god sent to the players who might earn professional contracts to study and ply their trade abroad.

Also, every players will surely gain professionally playing against some of the top pros of the game in England.

Sharks, who begin their quest on Monday against Simba SC, and Ingwe will be missing some of their top stars who are on international duty with Kenya in India.

Sharks will be missing Patillah Omoto, Bolton Omwenga, Vincent Wasambo and Ovela Ochieng.

Ingwe captain Duncan Otieno and Michael Kibwage also travelled with the national team.

Here at home, some scouts will be in Nakuru to watch the matches at Afraha Stadium.

Playing in a packed stadium, players who will emerge stars could attract the attention of other suitors and Leopards can cash in with a good sale. I am always impressed by the quality of players Ingwe has. Ingwe has very promising players with a dexterous ability to control the ball with either foot.

The team has many accomplished players including Dennis Sikhayi, Brian Marita, Joseph Kuria, Yusuf Mainge, Jaffrey Odeny, Marvin Omondi, Vincent Oburu and Aziz Okaka.

The boys are actually quite fast and full of running. They can run the entire 90 minutes without tiring.

The new coach, Argentine Rodolfo Zapata who has worked with the players for a few weeks now agrees they have progressed after special programmes.

He avers that Ingwe has many technical players, but they must be more aggressive if they want to win the Super Cup.

Leopards must know that others teams have prepared well for the championship.

Some of the teams will be facing each others for the first time, making it impossible to underrate your opponents.

JKU and Kariobangi Sharks and Homeboyz will be making their maiden appearance at such a high profile level, but can’t be underrated.

Some teams have in their squads international players. A look at the Gor Mahia line-up tells it all. In the past decade, many Kenyans have gone to America to study on football scholarships and done rather well.

Their training was paid for by their clubs, rather than their parents or guardians.

Most of them including Vincent Kwarula have since succeed in life. Others Kenyans have also ventured in different leagues in Europe and other continents.

They include retired Mike Okoth who played for Genk, RC Harelbeke, KV Ostende in Bulgium among others.

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