Leopards to prowl on despite Otieno setback
AFC Leopards SC fans follow the proceedings during their SportPesa Premier League match against Gor Mahia FC at the Nyayo national stadium on October 23, 2016. Gor Mahia won 2-0. Photo/Oliver Ananda/www.sportpicha.com

The former league champions have released 10 players

Chairman Shikanda rues the departure of midfielder Duncan, who has returned to Zambia.

AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda is optimistic the club’s signings will help the team achieve its targets in the 2020-21 FKF Premier League.

With 12 new arrivals, Leopards were among the busiest sides in the just concluded transfer window and Shikanda hopes their off-field activity will pay off.

The Leopards boss, who was speaking on Radio Maisha over the weekend said they failed to acquire a number of players they were pursuing. However, he backed those who made to the ‘Den’ to perform well.

“We are ready for any challenge because we have strengthened all the departments that had weaknesses.

“Our aim was to add a little maturity to those positions which we felt lacked experience while we also brought in young talent in positions we thought needed youthfulness,’’ Shikanda said.

Shikanda said their high altitude pre-season camp in Iten came in handy in helping the players build chemistry.

Ingwe, who will be seeking to end a 21-year wait for a league title, have bolstered their goalkeeping department by signing John Oyemba from Kariobangi Sharks with winger Harrison Mwendwa also joining from Sharks.

Leopards, who finished sixth in the 2019-20 season that was ended prematurely, also raided Kakamega Homeboyz for the services of Peter Thiong’o while striker Bienvenue Shaka was acquired after decamping Tunisian side Etoile Du Sahel.

Other new players who have been registered by Leopards ahead of the new campaign include Washington Munene (Wazito FC), Fabrice Mugheni (Rayon Sports-Rwanda), Caleb Olilo (Nairobi Stima) and Gideon Waja (Toronto II- Canada).

The 13-time league winners have also parted company with 10 players, including midfielder Duncan Otieno who has left the club to join Zambia’s Lusaka Dynamos barely a month since he rejoined Leopards after his contract with Nkana came to an end.

Otieno was reportedly in Zambia at the weekend where he finalised the deal to join Dynamos, but Shikanda felt the move was not done in a professional manner.

“Duncan is still our player as far as I am concerned and whoever is interested in him should discuss with us so that he is released officially. We can’t stand in a player’s way and if any player gets a better offer then we shall allow them to leave provided due process is followed,’’ said Shikanda.

‘’I can assure our fans we shall not lack in that midfield department. We shall do our best to have the best midfielders we can since that is a crucial position and it is difficult to create goals without a functioning midfield,’’ added Shikanda.

Leopards have restructured their technical bench by appointing Thomas Trucha from Czech Republic as head coach, a man Shikanda said will have a big role to play regarding nurturing young players.

‘’We want to have proper youth structures; a pool of young players graduating to the senior team and that will help reduce the budget of bringing in new players every transfer window,’’ he said.

Shikanda further said assistant coach Anthony Kimani will remain at the club with a view of learning from Trucha.

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