All eyes on Leopards’ den

By nesta kizito
Mar 15, 2014
  • AFC Leopards Eric Masika in a training session with teammates.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

The match between Sofapaka and AFC Leopards at Machakos on Sunday will headline a busy weekend that will see a full roster of eight Kenyan Premier League matches played.

Leopards have had a horrendous start to the new season that has not only seen them exiting the Caf Confederations Cup, but also going three matches without a win in the league.

The team’s latest stroke of ill-fortune came about midweek when Muhoroni Youth stunned them 1-0 away at the sugarbelt, a result that is said to have put coach James Nandwa’s job in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, the club hierarchy is playing the diplomatic card by giving the impression that the situation inside the den is not yet a crisis.

“Nandwa has done well so far. We have not thought of sacking him. He has our full support,” club chairman Allan Kasavuli said at a dinner party to mark the team’s 50th Anniversary on Wednesday night just hours after the Muhoroni reversal.

But even with Kasavuli’s assurance, Nandwa is a man under siege and another slip up will be akin to signing his own dismissal letter.

Interestingly, his comments after the team drew 2-2 with SuperSport United for a 2-4 aggregate loss in the continental competition gave a hint that the coach is well aware of his precarious position.

“We all know what happens in football. For now I am with the club but if the management decides otherwise, what choice would I have?”

Nandwa said at the time.

Make-or-break

That makes Sunday’s match a make-or-break encounter for the soft-spoken coach. Leopards are already marooned in the relegation zone – a very unfamiliar location indeed- with just two points and one goal in three matches.

Anything short of a win will surely send so many things in motion at the club. Sofapaka, too, have their own troubles.

While Batoto ba Mungu are the most prolific scorers in the league with 8 goals, two loses in four matches have upended their momentum.

Statics in this fixture are favour Leopards, but that will count for little on the pitch.

Also on Sunday, Gor Mahia - who like AFC Leopards are out of continental football - will be in action against leaders Western Stima with the table’s top spot at stake.

Gor Mahia are seventh on the log with 6 points, three less than Stima, but they could topple the Kakamega side from the summit, depending also on the result of the match between second-placed Chemelil Sugar and bottom side Top Fry Nakuru in Chemelil.

The other match that will be closely followed by the fans will be between Ulinzi Stars and Mathare United at the former’s Afraha Stadium.

Still winless in four matches, the alarm bells have been sounded at the Lanet Military Barracks as coach Salim Ali looks for a winning formula. Mathare have not fared better either with just one win and a draw in four matches.

But is it the soldiers will be under pressure to post a positive result.

Fixtures: Saturday: Sony Sugar v KRA (Awendo-3pm), Bandari v Thika United (Mbaraki-3pm), Ulinzi Stars v Mathare United (Afraha-3pm) Sunday: Muhoroni Youth v City Stars (Muhoroni-3pm), KCB v Tusker (City-2pm), Gor Mahia v Western Stima (City-4pm), Chemelil Sugar v Top Fry Nakuru (Chemelil-3pm), Sofapaka v AFC Leopards (Machakos-3pm)