The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

AFC Leopards was the most successful club in the 80s


The last time AFC Leopards won the top flight league was in 1998. They won their first title in 1966, the year several Luhya-based clubs united to form Abaluhya Football Club which later became AFC Leopards, commonly known as Ingwe. The club had its golden years in the 80s when they won the league unbeaten in 1986 and 1988.

Abaluhya won the Cecafa Club Championship in 1979 when they beat Kampala City Council 1 – 0 in Mogadishu.  They were not even supposed to feature at the tournament but Kenya Breweries and Gor Mahia opted not to participate. The old generation of Jonathan Niva, Livingstone Madegwa, Aggrey Lukoye and Joe Kadenge had left the scene. The golden era began with Alfred Sambu being elected chairman.

They started by signing Wilberforce Mulamba from Maragoli United in 1980. Mulamba, who was nicknamed Maradona, stayed at the club until 1991, scoring 137 goals from the midfield. He is the club’s all-time leading goal scorer.  Joe “JJ” Masiga had earlier signed for the club while still a student at the University of Nairobi. Another signing in 1981 was Pius Masinza who had sent Musingu High School to national championships in 1978 but remained in school while playing for Kakamega-based Motcom FC in the Super League. In 1982, the club signed winger Francis Kadenge, defender Peter Lichungu, Peter Shilasi and Ben Musuku. Peter “Zimbo” Owade followed Masinza from Kakamega High School and Motcom FC in 1983.

The club signed Mickey Weche in 1984 and Keffa Tasso joined in 1985 after winning the 1984 secondary school championships with Musingu High School. Other players included John “Shoto” Lukoye, Mike Amwayi, John Arieno “Papa”, Abdul Baraza, Haggai Mirikau “Shama Shama,” and Tony Lidonde who were already settled at the club. The club also had legendary goalkeeper Mohammed Abbas from Mombasa in their ranks. This is the time Robert Kiberu who cared more about results than beautiful football was the coach before he was replaced by hotelier Gerry Sauer in 1984. Gerry was replaced by Graham Williams in 1986 before his position was taken over by Joe Masiga in 1987 as player coach. Ghanaian Charles Gyamfi took over in 1988.

It is in the Cecafa club championship that Ingwe unleashed their claws. They had won the 1979 edition. In the 1980 championship in Malawi, Masiga helped AFC Leopards to a semi-final place where he scored the only goal that sunk Green Buffaloes of Zambia. He jumped into a plane and returned home to do his final year exams at the University of Nairobi’s Dental School. Leopards lost the finals 3-2 to Gor Mahia. In 1981, they were eliminated in the first round and Gor retained the title.

In the 1982 edition played in Kenya, Leopards beat Gor Mahia 2-1 in the semifinals to clinch the title by beating Rio Tinto of Zimbabwe 1-0 at City Stadium. In 1983, they eliminated Gor Mahia in their group and went on to beat ADMARC Tigers of Malawi 2-1 in the finals.

 The 1984 edition was played in Nairobi and again, Gor and Leopards led in their five-team groups based in Nairobi and Mombasa respectively. This meant that they could only meet in the finals, which took place at Nyayo Stadium. Speedy winger Mike Amwayi scored in the 4th minute to silence Gor fans. Sammy Onyango Jogoo equalised five minutes later but Joe Masiga scored the winner and AFC lifted the Cecafa Cup for the third consecutive year. 1984 is the year Ingwe made mincemeat of Gor, despite K’Ogalo winning the league they lost to AFC twice in the league and the regional title.

That loss was so painful for Gor that they called it the Nyayo Stadium jinx. They believed that Leopards had bewitched the stadium which was still under construction. So they decided to make City Stadium their eternal home. Then came the 1985 edition that was played in Khartoum, Sudan.

Group A, which consisted of Gor Mahia, Simba SC, Limbe Leaf Wanderers, El Hilal and Nakivubo Villa, saw Gor finish top with six points scoring eight goals. Leopards scored 12 goals and led their group made up of Nkana Red Devils, El Mereikh, KMKM of Tanzania and Marine on eight points. Gor then saw off El Merikh while leopards sent Simba SC packing and set up an all Kenyan final for the second year running. Winger William Obwaka of Gor scored the two goals that ended Leopards’ domination of the regional championship.

In 1986 edition of Cecafa Club championship, Gor bowed out in the group stage as AFC Leopards were bundled out in the semifinals by El Mereikh but beat Mfulira Wanderers for the third spot. They won the Super League that year. They then won the league in 1988 and 1989. In both 1986 and 1988, they were unbeaten as much as their last match in 1988 against Tusker was abandoned when they were a goal down. Between 1980 and 1989, Leopards clinched six league titles to Gor Mahia’s four. They lost the Moi Golden Cup final against Tusker on penalties in 1989. 

Between 1979 and 1989, Leopards won four Cecafa titles to Gor’s three and Kenya Breweries’ two in a decade that Kenyan clubs dominated the region and the continent.  One can then conclude that bar the CAF “Nelson Mandela” Cup Gor won in 1987, Leopards was the most successful club in the ‘80s.


Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week