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The Rise And Fall Of AFC Leopards

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By Mathew Ottamax

Allow me to come clear on some nonsensical story that has been doing rounds on our local dailies and social media platforms in regards to a certain Tanzanian coach who claims he cursed and bewitched our beloved AFC Leopards for non payment of his dues.

The year 1998 will remain in the lips of many Ingwe diehards as the last time they won something worthwhile in the then KNFL Championship nowadays christened SPL. Am lucky and proud to be part of this conquering team of eon.

But now, there’s this Sunday Kayuni who has come up with some sort of balderdash that he actually won the diadem for Afc Leopards.

Well, this credit I will always give it to the Late coach Flemming Jacobsen(Rip) and his assistant Martin Ndagano, who despite having novices from high schools the likes of Simeon Mulama, Rodgers Muhanji, Austin Makacha, Nicholas Muyoti, Oscar Kadenge to mention just a few, and this was after majority previous season stars had been lured to other clubs including our arch nemesis Gor Mahia.

Against all odds we played our first 15 matches without a loss, the first 10 without dropping a point including beating the star studded Gor Mahia, a feat which cushioned us comfortably at the top of the league standings.

Jacobsen and Ndagano knew how to touch the hearts of the players, they created conducive environment for us to work with ease and this made everyone very happy including the Club’s President Francis Chahonyo(Rip) who was even happier that he lavishly gave us whatever we wanted.

 

Flemming Jacobsen was a principled man who after being fought by the ever present cartels in our soccer decided to resign leaving the club with no option but to hire Sunday Kayuni.

This new coach came with a wrong attitude towards a playing unit which had already been patched together into compactness, he even reduced the more resourceful assistant coach to mtu wa kupanga cones.

He said we were a bunch of spoilt brats stopping all the after match goodies we were used to after winning matches, he also came up with unorthodox training regime which had us sometimes have 3 sessions a day…and this took a great toll on the players coz we approached matches lethargic and browned off.

This was evident in his first outing in Eldoret against Rivatex where we lost heavily 4-0!

A whiner he was, he accused senior players for sabotage with the support of some roho mbaya Team Manager who actually frustrated our former coach to exit.

This TM used to tell us that the origin of Afc Leopards was in Kakamega with him wondering what Luos and other players outside Kakamega were doing in the team.

Coach Kayuni then decided to change the starting lineup so as to suit his ego. It didn’t quite go fine for him because we started dropping easy points, something that made the likes of Utalii FC, Mumias and Gor Mahia to drastically reduce the gap.

You will remember that year’s league was breathtakingly won on the few last days of the season with the late Eric Madiola Mbwabi(Rip bro) stunning long range goal against Mumias Sugar FC.

 

MY PERSONAL ISSUES WITH THIS PARTICULAR COACH:

The purpose of a coach is to develop young talents at his disposal to the next top level of any competition.

During this time I was the national team first choice keeper and I remember we were in camp preparing for some tournament in Victoria, Mahe(Seychelles Archipelago) and whenever Leopards had a weekend league game, the coach and his team would sneak out other Leopards’ players in Stars camp on a Thursday evening leaving me behind.

When the Stars coach Majid(Rip dad) would ask why they were leaving me, they’d say Afc were not going to residential camp and they were afraid I will go out reveling if released and in that case they’ll come for me in the morning of the match.

When this day would come I’d wait in vain as the clock tick tocked to kick off time.

Desperately I used to take myself to Nyayo Stadium with the hope of playing only to find out the team had been selected and mine was a reserve on the stands! As you all know me, one day I stood up and gave them my mind, and the words were not so nice…no regrets!

 

A weekend prior to Harambee Stars trip to Seychelles, we had a match against the then deadly Oserian Fastac FC and as usual I was left out of Afc Leopards team, guess what! Oserian savagely hit us by 3 goals to nothing, a result which prompted some section of our loyal fans to descend on the Chairman with kicks and blows. Talk of venting your anger on the wrong person!

So that weekend passed and we were faced with another match weekend, but this one was different because Harambee Stars were slated to leave the country for the tournament.

After the Naivasha debacle the TM and the Coach had no option but to come for me and with their tails between their whatever.

Coach Majid boldly told them “he is not leaving his first choice behind, you guys spoke bad things about him, why change of mind now?” I also stood firm telling them it’s only the Club’s President who can convince me otherwise. Unfortunately for them Mr Chahonyo was out of the country…and I traveled to Seychelles!

 

Stars returned, and all the national team players were back in their respective clubs. The league was near completion with the first four teams separated by mere 3 points, any slip up and you’re out of the race!

We were left with three matches, two against table toppers Utalii and Mumias then wind the league against then struggling Kisumu Posta in Kisumu, a team even at its lowest have given us sleepless nights.

So against Utalii I started on the bench as a punitive measure since I snubbed the team for Seychelles. Mohammed Fwaya was in goal, I have much respect for Moha for the part he played in securing the championship, though this game needed nerves of steel as John MO Muiruri led Utalii barrage us with attack after attack. This pressure made Fwaya to succumb his position when the game was at 1-1.

Kama Yule Msee! I stepped in, and despite the continued attack at our goal, I managed a clean sheet and a 2-1 win for Afc Leopards, and this is where the league was won!

 

In other words this Tanzanian almost cost Afc Leopards the league title, he was slowly surrendering the well cushioned lead his predecessor had set and had it not been for the concerted effort of the players and the executive office it would have been LUWERE for for Ingwe Nation.

 

With one year still left on my contract I requested to leave my beloved Ingwe mainly on principles as I vowed not to play under him. It’s then that I got a better deal at SC Villa of Uganda, played in Cecafa for my new club, a tournament which also had Sunday Kayuni coached Leopards. While Kayuni’s team got knocked out in group stages, I went a notch further by playing in my second Cecafa finals within 2 seasons. After which I won almost everything at Villa with a progressive coach, whereas our house was being  brought down.

It is so wrong and very unprofessional for a respected person in a community to claim he BEWITCHED a person or an entity, how will our younger generations view us? Some of us are still owed hundred thousands or even millions but we won’t come out with bushman’s claims this time in history! Style up Mzee!

It’s God only who has our destiny. It shall be well at AFC LEOPARDS SC

 

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