The AFC Leopards National Executive Committee (NEC) is a house divided, as infighting in the den threatens the future of the club.
The bone of contention is the signing fees of the June transfer window. AFC Leopards acquired new players in the mid-season transfer, key among them Nigerian international Alex Orotomal, who signed from Sunshine FC of Rwanda.
Others are Eugene Mukangula, and Said Tsuma, both from Thika United, as well as Edward Seda, who was re-purchased from Mathare United.
It is Orotomal’s purchase that has attracted a lot of interest, perhaps due to the fact that his sale was financed by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, who is also the club’s patron.
Sakaja had announced during Orotomal’s unveiling in his office that the acquisition of the Nigeria means “I will be broke for the rest of the month,” leaving the media guessing just how much the politician had coughed out to bring the lanky forward to the Kenyan Premier League.
According to insiders, the deal was worth Sh400,000 and the senator paid half the price in cash with a promise to settle the balance one month later (end of July).
Almost two months down the line, Orotomal is still waiting for the balance to be cleared. According to a source, Sakaja paid out the full amount, but the player’s agent was given only half the money, with the balance allegedly landing in the pockets of one of the club’s officials.
“It is true that we owe Orotomal, and three or four other players. But it is untrue that the signing fee was Sh400, 000,” Igaida, Ingwe’s secretary-general told The Nairobian. He however did not disclose how much the club paid for the services of Orotomal or the amount he is still owed.
According to an insider who spilled the beans on the under dealings at the den, some officials of the club are being accused of plotting a ‘coup’ to get rid of the unsettled Argentine coach, Rodolfo Zapata.
Zapata, who joined Ingwe last May from Botswana’s Gaborone United, was in the headlines late last month when he threatened to quit, barely three months into his two-year contract with AFC Leopards, citing interference from a ‘section of NEC members’.
Even though things have since cooled down after club chairman Dan Mule personally intervened, Zapata dropped a big hint that someone was rocking the boat from within.
An official at the club who has been accused of fighting the coach refute the claims and said that: “These are football politics. I have a good working relationship with Zapata.
“I personally met the technical bench in Kasarani after our game against Mwatate United and pleaded with the coach not to leave. There is a lot of witch-hunting (in the NEC), but I will not be distracted by sideshows. I came to serve AFC Leopards. I’ve done enough and when that time comes, I will walk away and let someone to take over.”
Some NEC members are also being accused of inciting players to go on strike as they wage personal battles with their colleagues.