Goal.com writer David Kwalimwa analyses five reasons he believes have contributed to league leaders AFC Leopards' recent poor runOne would require a fair share of guts and facts, to describe AFC Leopards as a club in turmoil. After all, 'Ingwe' currently lead the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) standings after 24 rounds of matches, and are still considered favorites-in some quarters-to end the 13 year hiatus and clinch this season's title.
However, their current league position can mostly be attributed to performances during the first leg of this season. In what is a sharp contrast, the second part of this campaign has witnessed some of the worst performances and results of Jan Koops' 15 month reign.
The results have been dismal enough to attract the wrath of the club's passionate supporters, and offer realistic hope to the chasing pack, specifically Gor Mahia, who by last check had reduced a 17 point margin between the two sides to a manageable two.
Goal.com Kenya attempts to retrace the steps of what/how it all went wrong.
If Kenyan football was to adapt wrangling as its middle name, AFC Leopards Sports Club will have played a pivotal role in that.
During this campaign, as has mostly been the case, the public have been treated to the infighting and tussle for control of the club by a section of owners and self proclaimed bonafide officials.
For some time, court battles reigned as the hapless registrar of societies unsuccessfully tried to stamp his authority.
Whilst it may be difficult to directly blame the turn in form to this short comings, its not arguable that this is hardly the right environment to cultivate a winning team.
Besides, a glance at the statistics seem to back up this fact. The club has currently gone four matches without recording a win in the league.
Within this period, Chairman Alex Ole Magelo has sensationally been involved in a war of words with his long standing rival Sammy Aina, over missing funds in the club coffers.
If AFC Leopards was to eventually relinquish the top position and the KPL title this season, a thorough post morterm will have to be conducted on some decisions made by coach Jan Koops during the course of the campaign.
For starters, Mike Baraza was his most prolific and influential signing last season. The lethal forward was runners up in the goal scoring charts in the league.
This season however, the former Malaysian based forward has been reduced to a bit part role and at times played out of position on the wing.
Problem is the Dutchman's preference for the lone striking role Allan Wanga, hasn't quite delivered the goods, managing a paltry 6 goals in the league all season, one more than Baraza albeit in his bit part role.
Also in the loss against Western Stima over the weekend, Martin Imbalambala an outright central defender who could have been more at ease deputizing for the injured Erick Masika, was required to put in a shift in the holding midfield role while Koops opted for Burundian Jonas Nahimana a left back, to plug the glaring hole in central defence.
Nahimana's inexperience at the new role was evident and his lack of communication with stand in goalkeeper Baranabas Tiema led to the second goal.
|3. Injuries and absentees.
"We missed Masika. Greatly." Was all Koops could fumble after the loss to Stima. A wise man once lamented that the true worth of a man (or woman) can only be felt during his/her absence.
Masika who was acquired from rivals Gor Mahia at the start of the season, has been a solid mainstay at the heart of the Leopards defence, besides also chipping in with some crucial goals during the course of the campaign.
Needless to point out, his absence has offered pundits and critics alike an opportunity to discover his importance.
The mid-season departures of experienced duo Salim Kinje and Francis Chinjili to Simba SC and Western Stima seem to have left a hole in the back up department, while the loss in form of emerging star Emmanual Tostao is also worth a mention.
|4. The finances.
Despite popular belief, AFC Leopards' financial fortunes don't seem as rosy as projected. Granted, the club enjoys a stable financial relationship with the sponsors, but its been verified that a majority of the proceeds head towards the transfers, salaries of the players and technical bench and medical expenses.
Other expenses including transport, training and match day allowances which at times amount to millions are catered for by the club who's other major source of income is the gate collections and sale of merchandise.
This however, is not a reliable venture, and rumors have been rife that a while back, the players had gone for some period without their allowances.
Matters were made worse a few weeks back, after Chairman Alex Ole Magelo (who had been blocked by a court order from accessing the club's coffers) later announced the disappearance of substantial amount of funds from the club's accounts.
These are hardly the scenes to be associated with a title winning team, and the effects of the same have been there for everyone to see.
5. The rivals
AFC Leopards would have gotten away with this season's Kenyan Premier League title had their rivals folded.
Sadly, that didn't happen. Tusker who had to replace Sammy Omollo after a rough patch, seem to have regained their composure, while Ulinzi Stars have also staggered in the recent past but maintained their grip on the race.
In particular, its the story of the sworn enemy that has been as intriguing as it has been painfully for the 'Ingwe' family.
Gor Mahia's prospects ahead of this campaign had been written of merely six games into the season, after a dismal return of one win in six games.
However, a turn around spear headed by Croatian coach Zdravko Logarusic has seen the 'Kogalo' reduce a 17 point deficit to two points ahead of the derby involving the two this coming Sunday.
As it has turned out AFC' Lepards's loss has been Gor Mahia's gain.
Kenya football fans do you agree with this writer on the five reasons he thinks are behind the team's recent poor performance? please drop your comments on in the box below.