Koops face challenge to inspire AFC Leopards to gain points

AFC Leopards defender Eric Masika tussle with KCB’s Joseph Apindi [Photo: Standard]

By Gilbert Wandera

AFC Leopards coach Jaan Koops is at cross road to find the necessary inspiration to keep his boys going, especially against bottom placed teams.

With the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) approaching a crescendo, every point is important, but Koops does not believe his boys are on the same page with him in this regard ahead of their clash against 12th placed KCB at Nyayo National Stadium.

“It is a bit frustrating for me because I have to constantly remind my players not to underrate any team because we are not playing against school boys,” said Koops.

“At this juncture we cannot afford to underrate any team because no team is weak.

“However, this is normal with most players because they always tend to underrate struggling opponents. It does not matter how much you talk to them, sometimes it does not help.”

Leaders Leopards are back on the pitch after a two-week break hoping to extend their lead at the helm and with the league now in its 23rd round, every match and every point counts.

Leopards go into the match on the back of a 5-0 rout of Thika United at the same venue and will be under pressure to maintain their winning ways with pressure bearing down on them from their fans.

Koops will be happy to have back from injury, speedy winger Paul Were, who provides more options upfront. Leopards also have strikers Allan Wanga and Mike Barasa.

Goal draught

The bankers have so far performed according to script as the league enters a crucial stage. After starting so well the bankers reserves look depreciated after a recess in goal hunt. Now there target is to hang on and battle tooth and nail not to close shop should they be relegated.

On Monday, KCB fell 3-2 to Thika United even after leading 2-0 at some point. This is the kind of lapse the bankers cannot afford against hungry Leopards and Paul Kiogora and Peter Wainaina will have to be at their best to help KCB win.

Prior to the Leopards clash against KCB, focus will be on Rangers who welcome Muhoroni in what is billed as a bottom table combat at 2pm on Saturday.

The two teams both have 20 points each and both badly need to win to get away from the relegation zone.

Rangers coach James Nandwa says the fixture is like a Cup final for them.

“It is a must win for all of us considering that we are separated only by goal difference. It is like a cup final for us. We are hoping that our recent positive form will help us get all three points,” he said.

After a poor start, Rangers have made remarkable improvement despite losing key players in the just ended transfer window.

“We have finally managed to come up with our first eleven team. We are training regularly now and this has helped to build a sense of unity in the team,” said Nandwa.

There is also Chemelil fixture against Sofapaka from 4pm.