FKF Cup: Wounded AFC Leopards look for safe landing ground

Arthur Gitego (down) of AFC Leopards SC is assited by teammates Kayci Odhiambo C and Victor Omune after injury against Tusker FC during their FKF Premier League match at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos County on March 10, 2024. Tusker FC won 1-0. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

After a disappointing defeat in the Mashemeji derby last week, AFC Leopards are gearing up for redemption as they face FKF Division Two side Compel FC in the quarter-final match of the FKF Cup on Sunday at Dandora Stadium.

The match, set to be part of a thrilling double-header, offers Ingwe a chance to rejuvenate their spirits following a challenging stretch in the league.

In their recent Premier League encounter against arch-rivals Gor Mahia, Leopards suffered a narrow 1-0 loss at Nyayo Stadium.

The decisive goal came in the first half from former Ingwe midfielder Austin Odhiambo, taking advantage of an error by Leopards' goalkeeper Levis Opiyo.

Despite Gor Mahia playing with ten men for a significant portion of the game, they managed to hold onto their lead, leaving AFC Leopards and their fans disheartened.

The defeat sparked criticism from club supporters, with coach Thomas Trucha and several players coming under scrutiny for their inability to break down a numerically disadvantaged Gor Mahia side.

However, looking ahead to the FKF Cup clash against Compel FC, Trucha remains focused on motivating his squad to bounce back strongly.

"After the Mashemeji derby, everyone was extremely disappointed," commented Trucha during a post-match interview. "I told them we still have something to play for, and it's significant we up our game in the FKF Cup."

Trucha emphasised the importance of the FKF Cup campaign, not just for the silverware but also for the opportunity it presents in securing a spot in the CAF Confederation Cup.

"It's not just about winning the cup, but also about earning a spot in the CAF Confederation Cup," he explained.

"The players understand that we had an opportunity to win. I told them football is like that, sometimes you miss out, but there's still another chance in the big picture. We'll fight for it."

AFC Leopards, who last lifted the FKF Cup in 2017, are determined to make a statement in this year's tournament.

Despite their recent league setback, they remain focused on progressing in the cup competition and securing continental qualification.

Meanwhile, the FKF Cup action continues today (Saturday) with defending champions Kakamega Homeboyz facing KCB in an early kickoff match at Dandora Stadium.

Homeboyz clinched their first ever cup last year in their second appearance in the tournament.

Later in the day, Kenya Police will square off against Sofapaka in what promises to be an exciting clash between two formidable teams.

The double-header at Dandora Stadium sets the stage for a thrilling weekend of FKF Cup action, with AFC Leopards aiming to rekindle their winning form and advance to the next stage of the tournament.

The Ingwe match is scheduled as the second fixture of the day, immediately following the clash between Kariobangi Sharks and SS Assad.

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