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Striker Elvis Rupia says he can lift AFC Leopards to league title

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | January 27th 2021
AFC Leopards striker Elvis Rupia [Courtesy]

AFC Leopards striker Elvis Rupia says he is taking motivation from the race for the FKF Premier League Golden Boot to help Ingwe end the 22-year title drought.

The former Wazito and Nzoia Sugar man was on target on Sunday as 10-man AFC overcame Kariobangi Sharks 2-0 at Kasarani Annex to leapfrog Bandari into the fourth spot with 15 points.

They are now six behind league leaders KCB who trounced Western Stima 3-1 in Nakuru.

Rupia appears to have gotten his groove back scoring three goals in the last two matches including his brace against KCB (2-1) after failing to find the back of the net in Leopards’ two consecutive losses against Western Stima (2-0) and Wazito (1-0).

And with Sunday’s stunner in round nine fixtures having taken his goals tally to nine, two behind current leading scorer and Sharks talisman Eric Kapaito, Rupia said his rivals should be prepared for a closely-contested Golden Boot race this season.

He claims that there is a possibility of breaking the long-standing 26 goals record set by former AFC Leopards striker Boniface Ambani (2006) and Gor Mahia legend Maurice ‘Sonyi’ Ochieng (1976) this campaign if their (Rupia and Kapaito) current scoring rate is anything to go by.

While Rupia has so far netted two braces and a hat-trick this season, the former Kenyan Premier League player of the year Kapaito has already hit five braces.

AFC Leopards Elvis Rupia and Marvin Omondi celebrate a goal against Kariobangi Sharks on Sunday. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“Of course it was nice to get a goal on Sunday and help the team to win as I try to close in on Kapaito. That goal has given me a lot of motivation and I believe I can score more goals. I will keep on working hard and hopefully more goals will come,” Rupia told Standard Sports.

“But I feel the Golden Boot race will go down to the wire and there is a chance of someone scoring more than 28 goals.  We just need to believe in ourselves and make the impossible possible.

“Both of us (Rupia and Kapaito) set our targets before the season begun and we are optimistic of achieving them. I believe the competition between me and Kapaito is healthy.”

Asked about AFC Leopards title chances, Rupia said: “It is still too early to talk about the title, but are doing everything we can to continue fighting for the rest of the season.”

However, Rupia’s coach Anthony Kimani feels the striker is not only motivated to win the Golden Boot but also help the team lift the title that has been elusive to them since 1998.

“You can only score goals when you play well and that’s exactly what he’s been doing. It is important for him to continue scoring as it will give us an edge over our title rivals and also make the Golden Boot race competitive,” said Kimani.

Former Kenyan international Boniface Ambani backed the duo (Kapaito and Rupia) to break the feat but challenged them to set a target of at least 15 goals in the first leg.

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