AFC Leopards factions' truce, Koops and Akwana to work together

By alex wafula
Jan 09, 2022
  • There is a silver lining for AFC Leopards after a truce by two factions which saw the team hold two trials for new players.

The two AFC Leopards warring factions have finally come to a consensus over the team’s technical bench composition for the new season.

The two groups, one led by Dan Mule and the other by Mathews Opwora have been struggling to take control of the club. Despite the Sports Disputes Tribunal recommendation that a joint committee should  lead the team, none was willing to work with the other. This resulted in both sides carrying out separate player recruitment trials.

Mule’s team stuck with Ezekiel Akwana who was Zdravko Logarusic’s assistant last season while Opwora’s team picked Jan Koops, a former coach of the side. Koops’ and Akwana’s groups had on Thursday conducted trials, Akwana’s group at the Railway’s Training Institute while Koops’ group were at the Marist Institute.

A consensus was reached after a meeting on Thursday evening, with Koops, Akwana and Tom Juma, a former Administration Police FC coach coming together to form a new look technical bench. John Busolo also returns as goalkeeper coach.

“We have tasked Peter Lichungu and Noah Wanyama to look at the situation in the technical bench and recommend how the new bench will look like. At the moment, all the coaches will work together but by Tuesday next week, we will have a final stand on the same on who will be the head coach and who will deputize,” Dan Mule told Sports News Arena.

Koops returns to the team after three years, having led the club up to the end of the 2012 season when he was relieved of his duties.

Koops ready to work with anyone

Speaking to Sports News Arena, Koops says he is excited at the prospect of working with AFC again, a club he describes as the biggest in the country. He adds he is not bothered about working with anyone, choosing not to delve much into the political situation at the team.

“What is more important to me is to see the club back at the top where I left it. I have met with some of the players and told them they need to be committed to the club and that commitment will push us into the new season well,” the Dutchman added.

The team trained together on Friday morning with both sets of players who had been scouted from the previous trials attending and they were expected to travel for a sponsored friendly match in Mbooni on Saturday.

The team is expected to trim the current squad of 50 players to 25 by Wednesday next week before stepping up their pre-season plans.

Meanwhile, Gor Mahia has managed to acquire the services of Jacob Keli, a former AFC Leopards and KCB striker. The diminutive striker was dropped by Zambian league side Nkana FC after a disastrous spell that saw him play only eight matches for the club in the six months he was with them. According to a source close to Sports News Arena, Keli has penned a one year contract.

It will be some welcome news to the K’Ogalo faithful who have lost Rwandese striker Meddie Kagere after talks between him and the club hit a snag. According to sources, Kagere had quoted a large sign on fee to renew his one year contract with the club not willing to part with such amount.

“We have tried our best to negotiate with Meddie Kagere but it's quite unfortunate we will not be able to renew his contract because we can't meet his high demands," Ambrose Rachier, the Gor chair told the club’s official website.

Gor could lose the services of striker Michael Olunga who has a handful of European offers. The club has signed young goalkeeper Gradus Ochieng from Nairobi City Stars as well as Francis Kahata, a former Thika United play-maker.

The KPL champions have tried to lure Kenyan international David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng who is currently a free agent and training with them. The defender though is keen on a European move with a couple of clubs in Denmark and Norway having called him in for trials.

Six million Dollar man at City Stars

Elsewhere, Nairobi City Stars has hired John 'Bobby' Ogolla, a former Gor assistant coach to be the team’s head coach for the 2016 season. Dennis ‘Wise’ Okoth who had been holding forte for the remainder of last season will now deputize the experienced former Harambee Stars defender.

Peter Jabuya, the City Stars chair believes the experience of the man known as the ‘six million dollar man’ will be vital to the club’s ambition to be a top half contender in the league.

Ogolla resigned from Gor from what he termed as tough working conditions. He felt the coaching department was not being appreciated as much as the playing unit, going for months without pay while the management strived to pay the players’ salaries.

“I believe, I’m back home, the same way I was at Gor Mahia because I’ve been at City before. I will not be talking about winning the league but ensuring we participate in the league comfortably. The crop of players at City are good because I’ve seen them play. Anything above that is a bonus.” Ogolla told City Stars’ official club website.

Sony Sugar is also another side which has effected a coaching change with Leonard Odipo, formery Tusker FC assistant coach in charge. Salim Babu who took over on interim basis after Zedekiah Otieno was fired will remain as assistant.

Babu was being considered to take over the role on a permanent basis, but fell short due to his lack of qualification. Babu has a CAF C coaching license whereas the federation put a minimum cap of CAF A license for a coach to be allowed to handle a premier league side and a CAF B for the second tier.