NAIROBI, Kenya, July 25- Despite the threat of heavy sanctions, AFC Leopards remained adamant on Wednesday that they will not take to the pitch to face arch rivals Gor Mahia in their delayed Kenyan Premier League Top 8 quarterfinal on Sunday.
Speaking to Capital Sport Ingwe chairman Alex Ole Magelo said they were facing financial constraints which were likely to interfere with participation in the rest of their KPL league fixtures should they take part in the knock-out tie set for Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
“Due to court cases the club has been dragged into, it’s difficult for us since we have no money to facilitate the players’ camp and participation.
“It’s on record that we requested KPL to send us some money in cash but they insisted on sending the cheque to the bank, knowing very well that we cant withdraw it since our account is frozen and we are really going through a hard time,” Magelo decried.
The club officials have been unable to access the club’s finances owing to the case lodged in court by their rival Ssemi Aina but the issue is yet to be resolved weeks after Magelo was voted back in through an election last month.
He further took a swipe at the organisers of the tournament accusing them of sabotage and favoritism of their rivals in addition to lack of consultation.
“KPL should tell us why they decided to fix the date on Sunday, we were never consulted yet we had asked for assurances especially on security.
“We are not playing regardless of the consequences,” he asserted moments after KPL CEO outlined the club would be harshly penalized should Ingwe carry on its threat to boycott the fixture that was initially set for April 1. (See separate story http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/sports/?p=18007)
The Chairman insisted the league leaders had fixed their plan on their next league fixture and will now fully concentrate on their quest to clinch the title.
“After consultations with my technical bench, its best to stick to our plans to the next tie and keep our expenditure low since we had no match this week.
“Besides we have several injuries resulting from the last few matches, it’s not worth the risk but we are ready for them (Gor) during the league,” he explained.
This development comes just hours after KPL held a pre-match stakeholders meeting at the venue where Leopards was not represented.
“We did not attend because we were supposed to have it way before and talk of all other pending matters not before the match day.
“I suspect KPL have sinister motives to derail my team’s future engagement in the league, they must come out clean and explain to the football fans,” Magelo charged.
The Top 8 competition has been suspended for the last three months, since this tie was put on hold after Gor were banned from using the Sports Stadia Management Board (SSMB) facilities, due to crowd trouble during a league match against Leopards in March.
On Tuesday, K’Ogalo coach Zdravko Logarusic told Capital Sport that they were approaching the tie like any other league match and were out to simply enjoy themselves in addition to entertain their fans.
When reached for comment, Leopards coach Jan Koops recommended that the tournament be staged separately from the normal KPL season to avoid inconveniencing the participating teams.
“In many other football leagues, this kind of tournament is played before or after the main league.
“We would like to participate for our players to gain experience but its better we avoid putting so much pressure on them as they concentrate on the major games,” the Dutchman added.