Leopards coach rues loss of key players to rivals

By Clement Wekulo: Saturday, January 11th 2020 at 06:00 GMT +3 | Football
AFC acting Coach Anthony Kimani instruct players during KPL match against Posta Rangers at Kenyatta Stadium Machakos County on Jan 8, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

AFC Leopards coach Anthony Kimani has termed the loss of key players during the mid-season transfer window, a big blow but said the departures won’t have a bearing on the team’s performance.

Leopards have so far lost four players during the January transfer window, including influential attacking midfielder Whyvonne Isuza who decamped to Wazito and the number could rise if the club’s financial status does not improve.

“No team likes to lose its important players. We would have liked them to remain with us but there are a lot of circumstances which force players to look for other teams; some just need a new challenge while others require financial stability,” Kimani told Standard Sports.

“It is indeed a big loss but this presents the young players who have potential with a chance to get some game time which they have been yearning for,” added Kimani while ruling out the dependency on individuals within his squad.

Kimani, who was entrusted with steadying the Ingwe ship following the resignation of Rwandan Casa Mbungo, backed his youngsters Marvin Nabwire and Austin Ochieng to fill the void left by Kenyan international Isuza.

Other players who have ditched the 13-time Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions are right-back Denis Sikhayi who also joined the free-spending Wazito with winger Brian Marita moving to Tusker while Moses Mburu also opted out of the cash-strapped club.

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They join foreigners Ismaila Diarra, Soter Kayumba, Tresor Ndikumana and Vincent Habamahoro who decamped earlier.

“We have been lucky to have a good group of players still committed and they understand the situation the club is facing.They have been putting their best performance on the pitch despite the off-field issues and that shows they are not distracted.

“I know at some point things will change because the club’s officials are working hard to try and improve the situation,” Kimani said.

Having suffered their first loss in eight games against Posta Rangers on Wednesday, Kimani’s men will be looking to return to winning ways when they face Wazito at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos tomorrow.

“We must address the problems we saw in the Rangers match and try to build on the positives as well. We are aware that Wazito are now fired up having gone five matches without a win. They will be seeking to change that trend and it will, therefore, be a difficult match for both teams,” he said.

Leopards are currently seventh in the KPL standings with 25 points in 16 matches.


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