NAIROBI, Kenya, February 13- It was the Valentine’s Day gift any Ingwe faithful would have wished for after AFC Leopards confirmed Friday the appointment of former Gor Mahia Croatian head coach, Zradvko Logarusic to lead them in the 2015 Kenyan Premier League season.
Logarusic who returns to the Kenyan football after a two year stint at Tanzanian giants Simba SC has penned a one-year-deal with Ingwe.
Club Assistant secretary general, Professor Asava Kadima told Capital Sport the Croat who led Gor to the GOtv Shield and KPL runners-up in 2012 will upon his arrival link up with the squad in Mumias where they have retreated for their final pre-season training and will be availed next week.
“We received a lot of applications from foreign coaches but Logarusic came up as most qualified since he has a wealth of experience in Africa and Europe.
“He has signed a one-year- contract renewable based on his performance. We preferred him since he knows the KPL and understands the players since he has played against us when he was at Gor,” Kadima explained.
According to Kadima, Logarusic who holds the UEFA Pro licence has set tough target of lifting the KPL title with Leopards for the first time in 18 years, which will see them reclaim bragging rights from arch rivals Gor who won a record 14th crown last season, one more than their Mashemeji (In-laws).
Leopards who struggled to a sixth finish last term and severed their contract with Dutch coach Pieter De Jongh in the close-season will undoubtedly welcome the appointment of Logarusic who commanded respect in the domestic scene and was named the KPL Coach of the Year in 2012.
The assistant secretary general clarified De Jongh’s fate after he stated earlier he is still the Leopards coach despite the management announcing they had parted ways with him after failing to guide Ingwe to a single trophy last season.
“We had a mutual agreement with De Jongh to terminate his contract so there is no doubt we have formally parted ways. I urge our fans to hand the new coach and his technical bench support.”
Despite Logarusic, 52, being fired by Simba last August after losing 3-0 to David ‘Calabar’ Owino’s Zambian side Zesco United, Leopards have faith in the Croatian.
“Simba has different dynamics, before Logarusic, they changed more than three coaches so for us, we looked on his history and performance and we believe he is the right person to head Ingwe,” Kadima underscored.
Under Logarusic’s tenure that ended mid season in 2013 over a pay dispute, Gor emerged as the most difficult side to beat whilst playing eye catching football and his return is bound to stoke the age old rivalry between the two local giants and add spice to the forthcoming campaign.
Leopards who started their pre-season late after players boycotted training for almost three weeks demanding salary and bonuses arrears; have recruited nine signings after releasing eight in the transfer window.
The players are; Martin Kiiza (Tusker), keeper Joel Bataro (Gor), Emmanuel Ngama (on loan, Uganda Revenue Authority), Karim Ndugwa (SV Villa, Uganda), Fredrick Ndaaka (Police, Uganda), Clement Mata, Diallo Lamine (Al-Swafaa), Chris Gakuo (County Sportiff) and Ali Kesi (Upper Hill High School).
The team is in Mumias for a 10-day camp before coming back to Nairobi to prepare for the 2015 season.