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INGWE LET IT SLIP- WHO’S TO BLAME FOR DROPPING THE BALL THIS TIME?

The CAF Confederation Cup campaign began on a slow note for Kenya with Fosa Juniors managing a draw with AFC Leopards last Sunday. It was imperative for the Kenyan team to win the game in order for Kenya to have a good chance at advancing in the competition, and fan support was essential in boosting the players’ morale on the D-day.

There was so much hype about the game with Ingwe’s head coach pleading with fans to throng the Bukhungu stadium earlier last week. Calls for fans to attend the game were also made by former AFC Leopards’ players such as Joseph Masiga and Ingwe chairman, Dan Mule.

The emotional appeal worked with an impressive turnout of fans at the legendary Bukhungu stadium. In addition, the County Governor of Kakamega, Wycliffe Oparanya, vowed to foot all of the bills of the Leopards during their stay in Kakamega as they prepared for the first leg of the preliminary round of the CAF Confederation Cup.

And then the D-day came! To our dismay, the Leopards could not get the job done with the highly anticipated game ending in a 1-1 draw. The game had started brightly enough with Ingwe‘s goal coming early in the game as Yusuf Mainge scored in the 3rd minute for the home team. But, even before the 20th minute of the game, Fosa Juniors had already equalized. The rest of the game must have been difficult for the fans in attendance to watch as Ingwe players struggled to keep up with the visitors throughout the game.

Please remember that before the game, the Fosa Juniors’ coach had described AFC Leopards as highly disorganized, and to our surprise, Ingwe seemed determined to prove him right throughout the match. Now fans are furious, and understandably so, owing to the fact that this game was a must-win if we had any hopes of bagging the continental championship.

There have been several apologies issued by the team including sentimental messages issued by both the team’s keeper trainer and Ingwe’s coach. And true to Kenyan form, the blame game has begun. Who is to blame for the woeful display of Ingwe at Bukhungu?

Well, many die-hard Ingwe fans believe that the blame for Sunday’s off the mark performance lies squarely on the feet of Robert Matano, the current coach of AFC Leopards. Matano has maintained that he is in charge of recruiting players, but his choices so far have not worked so well according to several fans across social media. Some have even gone so far as calling some of the pre-season signings as utterly bogus!

Also on the players, many fans have voiced their frustration at having different starting lineups at every game. The lack of an almost regular Starting XI reduces the chemistry and familiarity amongst the players. This makes it extremely difficult for the players to gel well with each other, and lack of coordination in the team is the only expected result here.

There are also some people who firmly believe that the problem is not with the choice of players recruited, fielding, or the gelling of the members of the first team. This camp of AFC fans opines that there is lack of a tactical approach when designing game strategies. Going by the disorganization demonstrated by our players on Sunday, this theory holds a lot of water for me.

The National Executive Committee, the management of AFC Leopards, also came under fire for the poor results and the disorganization that seems rampant across the entire team.

Whoever is to blame, the fact remains that that away goal that Fosa Juniors managed to secure will cost Ingwe greatly in the second leg. Unfortunately, that is the least of our worries for the Leopards. The team has demonstrated fielding issues, problems with players connecting with each other, performance problems, lack of technical strategies, and lack of coordination across all levels of the team. If Ingwe has any hope of clinching this title then these issues have to be addressed pronto before the return leg in Madagascar.

What did you think about Ingwe’s performance against the Juniors? With all these recurrent problems in the team, do you think the Leopards have a chance to beat Fosa Juniors in the return leg?

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OF BAD BOYS AND EYEBROW RAISING TRANSFERS

Did you catch the Supercup derby last Sunday? Well, I did (on TV of course) and it was a hoot! It was right after church (where, btw, I am a Sunday School teacher), I had eaten, taken a nap, and I was more than ready for it.¬†Down here, we call it the Mashemeji Derby, and every time these two teams meet, there’s bound to be fireworks for fans and players alike!

Can you believe these two teams have met 97 times, including last week’s match? Amazing!!

I was kind of jealous of the people who had made it to Afraha Stadium to watch the game. It felt like the teams and their fans were part of something familial and I was just an outsider looking in. This is perhaps one of the greatest and longest football feuds in our nation, and it sucks not feeling connected to the history of these two amazing teams!! ūüė¶

Anyway, enough of the melodrama! Let me get right into it. It was a spectacular game with¬†Gor looking stronger from the onset, in my point of view, and it was kind of disappointing that there weren’t as many goals as you would want in such an exciting clash! What did catch my attention, though, was the roughness of the game.¬†This game was so intense and the referee had to make some tough calls throughout the game, including giving one ‘Gattuso’, a yellow card in like the first 15 minutes of the encounter.

I was struck by how aggressive he could be, but hey, he’s a midfielder, it’s bound to happen. What caught me off-guard is what the commentators said once he was shown the yellow. Their comments went along the lines of, ‘oh, this is normal, he’ll probably end up with a red, most probably won’t last the entire game’…(they were speaking in Swahili by the way just in case you were wondering). Shots fired!!

Gattuso is a skilled midfielder, with a stellar football career that has spanned more than five years. Having played for Gor Mahia, Sofapaka, and Tusker FC in the past, he has gained a reputation for being combative (in and out of the field) and an individual who is not squeamish about putting his body on the line in order to get the much-needed results for his team. He gets the job done……when,¬†and if, he decides to show up.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a bad boy as much as the next girl, and his antiques over the years, especially while he was in Gor, were definitely newsworthy. From arriving late for training, missing training sessions, going missing completely from training camps, to numerous fines, and fights, and social media rants, this midfielder has earned a place on the list of¬† Kenyan football bad-asses!!

Which is why I was sort of surprised to hear about his recent transfer to ‘The Den’, Gor Mahia’s main rival. I mean, doesn’t AFC Leopards have enough problems to deal with at the moment without having to add a temperamental, headstrong bad boy with a penchant for flouting team rules on to its worry list? And, doesn’t the coach know that bad boys equal heartbreaks? Take it from me, I am a girl, I know these things!

The Leopards could possibly be on the brink of financial collapse and the last thing the team needs is indiscipline or even a hint of it amongst its ranks. Otherwise, their entire 2018 campaign is in jeopardy.

But, who knows, Gattuso could be exactly what they need right now in these dark financial times. Drama, passion, action, and heat follow this man wherever he goes and he could be a critical ingredient to one of their most fierce cup challenges yet. This could be the home he has been looking for, and with proper management, Ingwe could be looking at their next midfield talisman. Only time will tell!!

Good luck to both team and player!