Why AFC Leopards have not won a Kenyan Premier League title for two decades

By Rodgers Eshitemi, in Kigali, Rwanda: Thursday, July 18th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
[Courtesy]

Former AFC Leopards coach Sunday Kayuni has revealed the reasons which he thinks has prevented the team from winning a Kenyan Premier League title for two decades.

The Tanzanian was unceremoniously fired by then-chairman, the late Francis Chahonyo, just a few months after guiding Ingwe to their last league title in 1998.

Since then, leadership wrangles coupled by high coaches’ turnover and instability in the playing unit has bedevilled the club that once sent shivers among opposition teams and produced some of the best players for the national team, Harambee Stars.

While their perennial rivals Gor Mahia seem to have found its footing both locally and in Africa, AFC is literally staggering into oblivion.

Leopards’ inconsistency in the recent past has paved way for Gor dominance in local football.

And while laughing off claims that he cursed Leopards for mistreating him, Kayuni, who is currently here in Kigali Rwanda as Cecafa Kagame Cup technical advisor, said Ingwe’s troubles are self-inflicted.

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“Who told you I cursed AFC Leopards? Honestly speaking, I think AFC are creators of their own problems. Stability on and off the pitch is a key factor in any successful club,” Kayuni told Standard Sports.

“How many coaches have they hired since I won them the league? What about the number of players they have released and signed each season? In football, results don’t come overnight, it takes time to form a winning team.

“Leopards is a very big brand in Africa, but unfortunately its handlers are misusing it. They should be competing for trophies with Gor Mahia, but not fighting to avoid relegation. Gor are doing well because their squad has been together for a long time, making the work for any coach coming there easy.”

Former AFC Leopards coach Sunday Kayuni. [Courtesy]

Kayuni, who will be travelling to Nairobi in the next two weeks, said he nearly resigned just after conducting his first training season in the den in 1998.

“When I came to AFC Leopards, the team was struggling and I felt the players they had couldn’t suit in my philosophy. I nearly resigned just after my first training session but the Team Manager convinced me and I changed my mind,” he recalled.

“We recruited some new players including Boniface Ambani and Simon Mulama. With the new signings, we went on to lift the title while Mumias Sugar finished second.”

But a few months later, the experienced Tanzanian coach was shown the door just after the club was eliminated from the Cecafa Cup in the group stages. 

Kayuni was then held hostage by a hotel along Ngong Road at which he was booked by AFC Leopards.

“I will be going to Nairobi in the next two weeks for some personal business, but I might meet a few officials while there.”

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