Leopards’ ravenous hunger for 14th league title

Nov 06, 2012
  • Photo:SNA File

If there is one team that is greatly steeped in the annals of Kenyan football history, then it has to be AFC Leopards.

Established in 1964, Leopards holds the distinction of being the club with the most number of titles - 13 crowns in all.

At the peak of their dominance, Leopards became the first team to win three back-to-back league titles (1980-1982).

But as one would have expected their eternal nemesis Gor equal that feat within the subsequent seasons (1983-1985).

Earlier on, Leopards became the inaugural winners of the Cecafa Club Championship in 1967.

Along with Simba of Tanzania, Leopards is the team with the highest success rate at the regional tourney with six titles. Their three consecutive titles between 1982 and 1984 are unmatched todate.

From relegation to title challengers...

But there is also a sad side to the Leopards’ tale. Their last regional title came in 1997, a year before they were last crowned Kenyan champions.

Between then and now, the felines have gone a full circle; from being relegated in 2006 to reinventing themselves in the past two seasons - and now league title challengers.

Leopards had the best possible start to their campaign this season and were the form team during the first leg going ten matches unbeaten.

But a 2-0 loss to Tusker in Mombasa halted a 23-match unbeaten streak stretching back to last season.

Leopards lost their advantage as Tusker and a resurgent Gor Mahia chewed up their massivelead before ultimately overhauling them.

AFC case Self-inflicted injury? 

But Leopards case could be that of self-inflicted injury. Just about the half-way mark of the season, leadership wrangles between chairman Alex Ole Magelo and one Ssemi Aina rocked the club threatening to derail their campaign. 

Things almost came to a head when Leopards lost 1-2 to Gor in a high stakes match on September 22. In the wake of that defeat, word started doing the rounds that coach Jan Koops was facing an imminent dismissal.

But sobriety prevailed and Leopards weathered the storm. But since that time, they have been playing catch up with Gor and Tusker holding a slight advantage.

Going into their final match against Chemelil Sugar, they are level with Tusker on 57 points behind leaders Gor who have amassed 58 points.

Although AFC Leopards coach Jan Koops has fell short of proclaiming Gor the champions in waiting, on Saturday, the entire Ingwe nation will be pregnant will expectation.

If Gor slip up against Thika United at City Stadium and Tusker fail to beat Nairobi City Stars in Kawangware, they will be waiting on the wings to pounce and cart away the trophy, aplty named the Tusker Premier League title.

But if Saturday's winners are hoping to get a heftier prize money besides the only the Ksh.1 million rewarded to the champions, not this year Kenya Premier League says the review of the prize money will only take effect next season...

(Next we look at Tusker)

 

 

Nesta Kizito

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