• Formed in 1964, Leopards have won the KPL title a record 12 times but were last crowned champions in 1998.
• Mukangula has described their loyal fans as a big part of the team's title ambitions, urging them to elevate their expectations as they propel the players forward.
AFC Leopards captain Eugene Mukangula reckons this could be the special year their fans have patiently been waiting for.
The club has climbed to the top of the Kenya Premier League table after the first-round matches played at the weekend.
Leopards' campaign got off to a flying start with a resounding 2-0 victory over Ulinzi Stars in Nairobi on Saturday.
After setting their campaign in motion with a scintillating performance, Mukangula predicts that his team will ultimately win the coveted silverware that has eluded them for an agonizing two decades now.
Formed in 1964, Leopards won the KPL title a record 12 times but were last crowned champions in 1998. The burly and dread-locked skipper Mukangula has now tipped the club to end the prolonged drought this year and placate the impatient fans who have grown giddy with anticipation.
“We have had a good start and now we have to pick it up from there. Our first game was not easy but we knew we had to win to start our championship aspirations,” Mukangula said.
Mukangula has described their loyal fans as a big part of the team's title ambitions, urging them to elevate their expectations as they propel the players forward.
“We need the fans to keep us going. They are part of us and the twelfth man on the pitch. We need them to keep roaring and pushing our target. I believe when they attend our matches and if we cooperate, then we will achieve something,” Mukangula observed.
Few had expected the naive and inexperienced cubs to maul the seasoned soldiers especially after 10 of their squad members were denied the opportunity to enter the battlefield.
Football Kenya Federation spurned the players who were acquired in the wake of an existing transfer embargo imposed by the world football governing body, Fifa. Mukangula said he is confident the rest of the team would overcome the hurdle on the way to glory.
“Regarding the issue of teammates who are not there, I believe the leadership is in a good position to talk about it. But we did not want to be victims of the current situation and lose the match because part of the squad is not there,” Mukangula said.
“We are one unit and we have been training together, so the rest of us who got a chance to play against Ulinzi had to fight for the team.”
News that the 10 would be excluded from the match day squad was revealed through a statement written by general secretary Gilbert Andugu.
"We would like to inform you that due to unexpected technicalities, we will not be able to include 10 of our players in tomorrow's FKF Premier League match against Ulinzi Stars FC. This is being addressed, and we expect them to play in future matches," it said.
The 10 players are Emmanuel Lwanga, Ronald Sichenje, Loren James, Victor Otieno, Aboubakar Musha, Nester Olum, Cliff Nyakeya, Josphat Lopaga, Victor Omune and Musa Oundo. The transfer ban was due to the unpaid debt of a former player, Soter Kayumba.