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Can Ingwe stop Gor?

Two weeks ago I blogged about how the 2013 league title has gone… to Gor Mahia. I received so much back lash from AFC Leopards fans because they felt that “Ingwe” had it in them to challenge for the title. I still don’t think they do but I respect how they are thinking.

Ironically, they are basing their theory on Gor Mahia’s performance last season.

Last season Gor went from hanging around the relegation zone after two months of competition only for Zdravko Logarusic to come in and turn things around. The Gor onslaught was amazing; seeing Logarusic take the team to the Top 8 final and win it; to the FKF Cup final and win it (although the jury is still out about how a team that was knock-ed out in a “knock out” tournament found their way back) but Loga also took Gor to within smelling distance of the League trophy. Infact Gor lost the trophy on the last day because they were in prime position to clinch it.

Ingwe are also basing their argument on the fact that they; just like Gor now; were top of the league at the half way mark but slipped down as times got tough. They feel the opposite could still happen this year. And while anything is possible in football, I doubt things will flip around so greatly again this year.

Here are my reasons:

AFC Leopards made a big mistake last year that every team can learn from. They became over confident to the point of taking a home game to Mombasa. That was the beginning of their end, losing their first match in like 22 games down at the Coast.

As if the over-confidence wasn’t enough, the management started feuding. The usual election disruption happened and focus began to be off the pitch not on it.

Sadly that is happening again to AFC. Coach Luc Eymael is already unsettled at the club over many issues as he related to me last week. His biggest issue is the pitch where the team trains. He said the pitches they use are so rough and bumpy that his players are getting more injuries in training that on the match days. He said he only trained for about 15 minutes on Saturday because he couldn’t risk another injury ahead of the Sofapaka game. This week, the team has been going from Kasarani to City Stadium and back to train; and while the conditions are better, the Coach seems to want one solid venue to stick to.

As revealed by my Simba Super Soccer co-host Robin Toskin in last week’s show; the top management in AFC Leopards is already divided. We applauded their peaceful elections a few weeks ago, but apparently management styles between top officials are different and they are beginning to clash. These disagreements are affecting general organization of the club, and the Coach now has to sort out petty issues like ensuring his driver gets paid on time; to ensuring they have enough balls for training.

It’s no secret that Eymael is job hunting over the frustrations at AFC; with Togo and Malawi mentioned as some national teams eyeing him; while a big South African club, believed to be Orlando Pirates has been mentioned in the same sentence as Eymael.

The Coach himself insisted to me that he needed to speak to the Chairman of AFC Leopards before making a career decision but it is very evident that he is unhappy.

The last one month has been great for AFC under Eymael in the league. They have come from 12th in the standings to a top three position; and with Thika’s current form, it’s just a matter of time before they are second.

It would be unfortunate for the club to lose the Coach at this point but the management needs to organize itself.

But Gor Mahia will have to watch what is going on at AFC very closely. Even as K’ogalo enjoy a 6 point lead at the top of the league, caution must be exercised. The departures of Dan Sserunkuma and Rama Salim are worrying. Though it’s not clear whether they are on trial in Eastern Europe and Qatar respectively, I am concerned that the clubs Coach Bobby Williamson didn’t know that Rama wasn’t in the country ahead of their game 10 days ago.

Whoever is handling the “sale” of players at Gor Mahia; or at least approving their departure, needs to stop and think how it will impact the club. Even though Sserunkuma hasn’t been at his best this season, he can impress when his form allows; while Rama has been critical in Gor being at the top. Both players will be dearly missed and while I support players going abroad, having it happen in the middle of the season is a bit disturbing.

Gor are also struggling through some of their matches, and it’s thanks to Keeper Jerim Onyango that they didn’t lose to Tusker last week. Furthermore they struggled against City Stars on Sunday coming out with a goalless draw. At least they are avoiding defeat which is how you win titles but they need to start getting maximum points again. They have gone from 8 points clear to 6, and dropped four points in two weeks.

I like it when the battle for the title goes down to the wire like it has done over the past few years in the KPL, and right now it’s appears as if AFC Leopards is the only club that can really push Gor to the end. As Gor are drawing, Ingwe are getting maximum points. On Saturday they left it very late to score against Ulinzi, but it doesn’t matter how you do it; just that you get the three points.

So my message to the Ingwe top brass; for the sake of an exciting run-in; please don’t mess up because right now you certainly have a good thing going.

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