Former league giants AFC focused on ending 21-year league title drought

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019 18:53 |
New Leopards signing Ismail Diarra (right) vies for the ball against Chris Oruchum during their training session at Kenya Technical Trainers College (KTTC) in Gigiri yesterday. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

Since 1998 when they last laid their hands on the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title, AFC Leopards have heaved and puffed to replicate the same in vain.

In retrospect, since that year of glory when the team was under the tutelage of Tanzanian Sunday Kayuni, the big cats have not come anywhere near the diadem with their faithful enduring one heart-break after another.

Granted, it has even been worse that the downward spiral by one of the most illustrious clubs in the country has resulted in stooping low to the point of sometimes fighting relegation much to the chagrin of their fans.

Fortunately, Leopards have lived up to their identity as a cat with nine lives by evading banishment from the league and eventually winding up among the top ten teams just like they did in the 2018 season.

But that is not the way the team wants to go in the 2019/2020 season with the team’s Technical Director Tom “Gaza” Juma indicating as much.

“Last year, we were reduced to strugglers but we will strive to take a different approach and that’s competing effectively with our opponents to wind up in a position that befits us even if not clinching the top position,” said Juma, who is one of the club’s legends.

He added: “Last season was nightmarish to the team, saying that we struggled is an understatement but that is now water under the bridge and I believe we will be a different preposition this season. Of course, any team may have a bad patch but I’m a firm believer that there is always room for improvement.”

Juma reckons that Leopards’ trump cards in their quest for resurgence are the quality signings the team made in the June transfer window.

“You know, the wearer of the shoe is the one who knows where it pinchers. After a bad spell we had been racing against time to mould a competitive outfit and I’m happy with what we have done so far in as far as beefing up the team is concerned,” he said.

Among the new players in Leopards brigade are indefatigable defender Soter Kayumba, who was sourced from Sofapaka, and evergreen youthful defender Collins Shichenje from Kakamega High School’s Green Commandoes.

The team has cast its net wider as they brought on foreign players such as  Malian Ismail Diarra formerly of Algeria siude CA Bordj Bou and Burundian Tresor Ndikumana.

The club has also secured the services of Ugandan goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan on a one-year contract.

Ochan’s acquisition by Leopards follows the exit of goalkeeper Erick Ndayishimiye, who spent only one season with the club and is reportedly seeking a new club in his native Rwanda.

More on Football