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Thanks Mbungo for committing to Leopards

Monday May 20 2019

AFC Leopards coach Casa Mbungo reacts during the Mashemeji derby  at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on May 19, 2019.PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

AFC Leopards coach Casa Mbungo reacts during the Mashemeji derby at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on May 19, 2019.PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

JOHN ASHIHUNDU
By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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I don’t quite know what to make of our former coach Nikola Kavazovic’s sacking as Free State Stars coach, days after the foul-mouthed Croat successfully presided over the club’s relegation from the Premier Soccer League of South Africa.

For those who can recall, Nikola was appointed Leopards coach at the start of this season but left without handling a single league match.

He left the club in a state of confusion that his successor — in the frame of Andre Casa Mbungo — has had to work on damage limitation for the entire campaign.

That’s why I’d like to congratulate Mbungo for penning a contract extension over the weekend and committing himself to the club until June 2021 as we look for stability.

The soft-spoken Mbungo has illustrated he has what it takes to challenge those chaps who are known to sleep at airports on route to international games and then delete the club’s social media accounts after internal squabbling.

Since taking over in February, when the 13-time league champions were 15th on the table, three places above the relegation zone, Mbungo has turned the club’s fortunes around as a result, the team moved from bottom of the SportPesa Premier League table to ninth.

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But that’s now what I wish to discuss today.

Let’s talk Sebastian Migne, yet another Harambee Stars coach and his selection for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

There have been diverse opinion over the Frenchman’s provisional squad, and especially why he dropped the free-scoring Jesse Were for the inactive Masoud Juma, and the decision behind the move to also select two average Kariobangi Sharks keepers, and especially Brian Bwire, who has played less than 10 league matches this season. I will not be enjoined in that debate.

I will instead laud the coach for picking Leopards duo Paul Were and Whyvonne “Ramsey” Isuza for this assignment.

This duo have enough talents to do the job for the team especially in the attacking positions.

Isuza has had a sublime season, and scored eight times in the league from the midfield, before Sunday’s match against K’Ogalo.

I had hoped David “Cheche” Ochieng would also be included in the Africa Cup of Nations squad.

He’s a solid defender who’s put in a shift in defensive midfield since rejoining the club from Sweden and the USA. Ochieng is still 26, and will surely have another chance.

We hail Migne for leading Kenya back to the Afcon after a 15 years hiatus. The coach inherited a team that was in shambles, but bravely rallied his troops to the promised land.

But the omission of Jesse Were has raised eyebrows, although the door has not been slammed shut on his international career.

To many, keeper James Saruni of Ulinzi Stars and his inform striker teammate Enos Ochieng’ with 16 goals to his credit, Mathare United midfielder, Cliff Nyakeya or even Sony Sugar’s forward Derrick Otanga deserved a look in over the so-called “Sharks axis”.

Migne, perhaps with or without merit — is accused of being a stooge of a top FKF official who is using the Cairo tournament as a platform to market his players coming from a club he is associated with.

Masoud Juma has not been active for long yet he is in the national team list, though the coach has yet to name his final side.

With Sh244 given by the government for the team’s preparation, I feel Stars should be able to surprise many. Let us support Migne with his players to excel at the Afcon.

The whole nation should rally behind Stars as they prepare to leave the country for a three-week training camp in France before heading to Cairo for the Afcon finals.

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