•And after rising above all odds to secure a top-five finish, Juma reckons they will bounce back even stronger next season with their eyes firmly set on the ending their 20-year title drought.
•Juma reckons the Kenyan football scene is too chaotic at the moment to plan aptly for the future, although they already have a tentative training program in place.
AFC Leopards are hammering away to break Gor Mahia's six-year dominance in the Mashemeji derby come the new season, assistant coach Tom Juma has said.
In an exclusive interview, Juma asked Leopards' adoring fans to exercise patience as the squad gather the prerequisite ammunition and adequate momentum to halt their opponent's unrivalled supremacy in the country's most cherished football showpiece.
“Of course, we know how hungry our fans are to win the Mashemeji derby given the honour winning such a match comes with,” Juma said.
“They only need to exercise some patience. In the last three matches, we came so close to beating Gor Mahia and they only ended up winning on penalties. That alone shows we've been improving over the past few years and we shall soon break the jinx.”
And after rising above all odds to secure a top-five finish, Juma reckons they will bounce back even stronger next season with their eyes firmly set on the ending of their 20-year title drought.
“We kicked off the season on a torrid note with five straight losses after losing our star players due to financial difficulties.
“We also lost three key players to other clubs early in the season. Collins Sichenje joined the pro ranks in Greece while Daniel Musamali and Marvin Nabwire left to join Kenya Police.”
Juma said, unlike their rivals in the top tier, they didn't have the luxury of rotating the lineup due to a limited squad.
“At the end of the day, we had only 24 players left as the competition entered its crucial stages, despite the groeing list of injuries.”
Juma reckons the Kenyan football scene is too chaotic at the moment to plan aptly for the future, although they already have a tentative training program in place.
“It's a little bit difficult to plan ahead given the current situation in the country. We don't have the right information about the next season including when it will begin. We have given our players a two-weeks' break.”
“Our next focus is the forthcoming Elijah Lidonde Memorial Tournament that will be held in Kakamega county early next month.”
Four Kenyan Premier League clubs — AFC Leopards, Kakamega Homeboyz, Vihiga Bullets and Nzoia Sugar — have confirmed participation in the two-day tournament that kicks off at Bukhungu Stadium on July 9.
The ex-Kenyan and AFC Leopards luminary reckons they need to plunge significant resources into the transfer market to bolster their young squad with the much-needed experience.
“We shall definitely look to strengthen the squad in the next transfer window. There are some key areas that need urgent attention, especially in the central defence. We were forced to tinker the central defence constantly, especially after we lost Clyde Senaji to Tusker and Robinson Kamura to KCB.”
Juma says local football stakeholders should save Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed the flak following her decision on Saturday to extend the term of the Transition Committee via a Gazette notice.
“I don't see anything wrong with that decision. Some leagues aren't over yet and there was a need to ensure a team remains in place to preside over them.”