We will miss ‘Machapo’: Tom Juma

Friday, September 24th, 2021 00:00 |
AFC Leopards striker Elvis Rupia kisses a plaque after being named premier league’s February player of the month. He finished the season with 17 goals but has who has since left to join the a top side in Middle East. Photo/PD/PHILLIP KAMAKYA

A dark, ominous cloud is hanging over AFC Leopards ahead of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League which gets underway this weekend following sanctions by world football governing body Fifa for breaching contractual deals with some of their former players and coaches.

AFC Leopards were barred by FIFA from signing players for the next two transfer windows, in what is the latest of a drawn-out legal tussle involving the club and its former trainer Ivan Minnaert as well as players.

The Belgian tactician, who now manages Guinea Club AS Kaloum, dragged Leopards to Fifa’s Dispute Chambers for breach of contract where it was ruled that he be paid an equivalent of his six-month salary totaling Sh 2.4 million.

To date, the cash strapped Leopards have yet to pay the amount which saw the world body throw the spanner in the works for the 12-time Kenyan champions.

Leopards were also ordered by Fifa to pay their immediate former coach Andre Casa Mbungo, who has since joined Bandari, Sh 6 million for breach of contract.

Also in the neck of the big cats is former player in Rwandese Vincent Abamahoro who is owed millions of Shillings which prompted him to seek intervention from Fifa.

Following the development by Fifa, Leopards shall be forced to make do with fringe players in the new FKF Premier League season.

To make matters even worse for Leopards, they have lost key players like Elvis "Machapo” Rupia, who was the league’s second best top scorer with 17 goals last season, Harrison Mwendwa and Collins Shichenje. And Hansel Ochieng’

Yesterday, the Team’s Operation’s Manager Tom Juma said the crisis at the den is so dire, adding that the team will particularly miss scoring machine in Rupia who scored the highest number of goals in the team last season with four assists to boot.

“When a player scores 17 goals as Rupia did, you know he is the right one in the team’s set-up.

Mwendwa and Shichenje too gave their all and to say that we shall miss the quartet will be an understatement,” said Juma. 

While Rupia signed a one-year deal with Saudi Arabian side Bisha FC, Shichenje was lured by Greece Super League side PAOK Thessaloniki while Ochieng has devcamped to 2009 champions Sofapaka. 

But while Juma came short of saying he was pessimistic about the team’s chances of doing well in the league, he said the embargo by Fifa touching on signing of players in the team was rather harsh.

“We did not expect such a decision and we hope they (Fifa) shall revise it but as for now, we shall use the players available,” said Juma.

Leopards open the 2021/22 Premier League campaign with a seemingly tough clash against Tusker at Thika Stadium on Sunday.

The match is penciled for 1.00 pm and it will be interesting to watch what is up the sleeves of Ingwe against a team that is basking in the glory of having beaten Gor Mahia 8-7 on penalties to win the FKF Super Cup at the same setting last Wednesday.

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