IMPRESSIVE GROWTH

Ferocious Leopards leave their own bench perplexed

The cubs have now matured into ferocious felines, clawing at whim and wreaking havoc on opponents in a vicious manner.

In Summary

•In line with the invaluable adage in the football parlance which goes “never tinker with a winning team”, Juma has told the fans to expect minimal adjustments to the squad in the next transfer window.

•And how would he possibly forget to express immense gratitude to their adoring fans who have been lighting up the stands while shaking and rolling their shoulders to the stentorian Isukuti drum beats!

Brian Eshihanda of Kakamega Homeboyz (L) contests for the ball with Fasamni Ojo of AFC Leopards during their Premier League match at Nyayo Stadium.
Brian Eshihanda of Kakamega Homeboyz (L) contests for the ball with Fasamni Ojo of AFC Leopards during their Premier League match at Nyayo Stadium.
Image: ERICK BARASA.JPG

AFC Leopards' recent impressive run has set tongues wagging and baffled fans and opponents in equal measure.

But none has been taken aback more than their own assistant gaffer, Tom Juma, who had initially written off his fledgling cubs entirely after a torrid start to the season.

In an interview with the Star earlier in the year, Juma emphatically brushed aside any talk of a possible title contention while reiterating their desire to fight for survival in the country's top tier.

Juma's perspective has since taken a different aspect and the ex-Kenyan international reckons his charges are well in contention for a top-five finish.

The cubs have now matured into ferocious felines, clawing at whim and wreaking havoc on opponents in a vicious manner. 

Their latest casualties are debutants Talanta who suffered their wrath at Nyayo Stadium on Saturday, where they crashed 3-2.

But amid the mind-boggling turn of fortunes at the den that has left the cats purring in contentment, Juma still underlines the importance of facing the future with humility.

“As I said earlier, we are taking each game at a time. That has always been our position and our recent impressive run doesn't change anything,” Juma said in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

“We are facing Kakamega Homeboyz in our next match and we are determined as ever to reap handsomely from the fixture. To us, no team is great or weak. We treat all opponents with the seriousness they deserve,” Juma added.

But what magic wand has the management unleashed to exorcise the ghosts that haunted the den earlier in the season?

“We kicked off the season on a low note because of some reasons that are already in the public domain including financial challenges. We are happy the management is doing a great job paying salaries in good time and that has really motivated the players,” Juma explained.

“The challenge we previously had was the high wage bill occasioned by hefty salaries paid to former players. That made it difficult for us to pay salaries in good time thus the constant exodus of star players,” Juma said.

In line with the invaluable adage in the football parlance which goes “never tinker with a winning team”, Juma has told the fans to expect minimal adjustments to the squad in the next transfer window.

“Our wish is to beef up the squad a little bit because we were unable to do so this season given the transfer sanctions imposed by Fifa early in the season,” Juma said.

“However, the main objective is to refine our current crop of players because most of them are still very young with a whole future ahead of them. We are impressed with the rate at which the players have gelled thus far.

And how would he possibly forget to express immense gratitude to their adoring fans who have been lighting up the stands while shaking and rolling their shoulders to the stentorian Isukuti drum beats!

“Our fans have been tremendous this season. They've rallied behind us through thick and thin, never quite giving up and their unwavering support has inspired the team to the current status,” Juma said.