AFC Leopards may have failed to stem Gor Mahia’s dominance over them in recent season on Sunday, but their midfielder Collins Shichenje took a lot of positives from his full derby debut.
Shichenje, 18, was a joy to watch in midfield as Ingwe in their 1-0 defeat at on Kasarani Stadium.
The youngster stood out by restricting the experienced midfield of Lawrence Juma, Kenneth Muguna and Jackson Owusu from causing more damage to Leopards.
The lanky Kakamega High alumnus’ impressive show proved why national team coach Francis Kimanzi gave him a nod for the upcoming 2021 AFCON qualifiers.
“Even though we lost, I felt I showed my worth. Compared to the first leg performance, there was a really big improvement and I’m proud of my teammates’ efforts,” said Shichenje.
“Apart from conceding an easy goal, we challenged Gor Mahia on all fronts and everybody played his heart out.”
And with the title hopes dashed, Shichenje has shifted his focus on helping the sixth-placed Leopards (40) secure a top-three finish as well as clinch the FKF Betway Cup.
Leopards clash with National Super League side Ushuru in this weekend’s round 16 of the domestic cup in Nakuru.
“This team has several youngsters and I think we will very soon end the derby jinx. We need to keep our heads up and continue fighting because something good is coming. We have what it takes to finish in the top three as well win the FKF Cup,” he said.
Asked about his inclusion in the 16-man local-based national team squad that commenced a non-residential training at Nyayo Stadium on Monday, Shichenje said: “This is a dream come true for me but I also think it’s the right time to earn that call-up. I thank God for the opportunity the coach has given me and I will not let him down. I know I’ve a lot of potential, but that doesn’t mean I will not work.”