Sunday, March 18 – 4:15p.m Local time – Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County, Kenya.
When the cat’s away the mice will play, and for AFC Leopards, this weekend presents the opportune moment to advance their title ambitions in the absence of League leaders, Gor Mahia.
K’Ogalo has made the long trip across the continent to Tunis, where they are set to face Esperance in the second and final leg of the First Round of the CAF Champions League.
The tie still hangs in the balance after a barren draw during the first meeting at the Kenyatta Stadium a week ago, but the Tunisian champions are bound to offer stern resistance in front of a jam packed home crowd.
AFC could likewise have been flying the Kenyan flag high on the continental front, had they not been knocked out of the CAF Confederation Cup on the incalculable away goal rule.
Ingwe now turn their attention to the Kenyan Premier League with a showdown against fellow westerners Kakamega Homeboyz on Sunday. The Western Stima based side kick started the campaign with a hard fought 1-0 win away to Thika United, but have only registered one more win since their triumph on the opening game of the season.
Three losses and a draw has left the club tenth on the KPL standings with seven points from six matches; albeit behind Posta Rangers and ahead of Sony Sugar on goal difference.
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Head coach Mike Mururi is wary of his team’s profligacy at the backline with six goals conceded in their opening six games, more so because his side had one of the most imperious defensive records in the last campaign- conceding just 23 goals in a season total of 32 matches.
Inquest from the board has already began over their poor string of results, after club chairman Cleophas Shimanyula was forced to cool off livid fans who were protesting last Saturday, demanding for Mururi’s resignation after their 1-0 loss to Ulinzi Stars on home soil.
The former Chemelil Sugar tactician will without question get hot under the collar with mounting pressure from irate fans, more so after Shimanyula’s insistence that his fate will be written in stone, depending on the outcome of the results from the next Premier League two matches.
He couldn’t have asked for a tougher opposition even if he tried, as AFC Leopards are second only to Gor Mahia on the ranks, and currently on a free scoring spree.
Ingwe’s defensive jitters have compelled their heavy hitting attackers to work on overtime, more often than not outscoring their opponents to seal maximum points. Such was the case during the midweek KPL tie when the Leopards had to outscore Wazito FC to win 3-2, or the previous weekend when they ran out 4-3 winners over Mathare United.
Interim head coach Dennis Kitambi, who has since replaced the sacked Robert Matano after weeks of highly publicized tussles with the club management, will make a multifaceted approach towards restoring a sense of calmness not just to the back four, but also with the attacking line; this being after Ezekiel Odera and Victor Majid missed two penalties during the win over Wazito.
AFC Leopards vs. Kakamega Homeboyz match prediction
Three points for AFC would draw them level on points with Gor – who will notably still have a game in hand – while maximum points for Homeboyz would lessen the pressure on the head coach.
However, Mike Mururi is walking on a tight rope with no safety net at the bottom, and could as such face defeat in the hands of Ingwe.
Prediction: AFC Leopards to win
AFC Leopards vs Kakamega Homeboyz recent results
AFC Leopards 0-0 Kakamega Homeboyz (September 17, 2017)
Kakamega Homeboyz 1-0 AFC Leopards (May 20, 2017)
Mohammed Dialo 79′
Kakamega Homeboyz 4-1 AFC Leopards (August 14, 2016)
Andrew Kulecho 5′
Sunday Mutuku 14′
Andrew Murunga 28′
Eugene Ambulwa 45′ (OG)
Kepha Aswani 44′
AFC Leopards 2-1 Kakamega Homeboyz (March 30, 2016)
Kepha Aswani 54′
Kepha Aswani 68′
Charles Momanyi 9′
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