NAIROBI, May 22 – Cash-strapped AFC Leopards players had to be given Sh 300, 000 (USD 3, 084.13) from well wishers to travel to Kisumu ahead of their Saturday Kenyan Premier League clash against Western Stima.
The players had threatened to boycott the match which will be televised live by SuperSport with their chorus demand to be paid their outstanding salary arrears that spilled into the fourth month.
For the third occasion running, endowed well wishers came to the rescue with each aggrieved player receiving Sh5,000 (USD 51.4) that coaxed them to board for the onward journey to the lakeside city where they will face Western Stima on Saturday.
“Yes they had refused to travel until they are given money to cater for their families and I agree with them because they have personal needs that they need to take care for the two days they will be away.
“We gave them Sh300, 000 collected from well wishers to share among themselves then we will give them something small when they return. We have not paid them for three months but we are working with two sponsors and hopefully in second-leg we should not be struggling,” club assistant Secretary General, Prof. Kasava Adima told Capital Sport on Friday.
The team was set to depart Friday morning but despite their bus arriving at picking point on time, the players declined to board until they are given money.
“We have left. We decided there is no need of training the whole week then boycott a day before the match, we only wanted them to give us pocket money for us to leave behind for our families,” one of the player who sort anonymity, told Capital Sport.
The Kenyan football titans who are in a healthy run of form despite their cash woes with three victories on the bounce are depending on alms to quell the unrest at The Den.
Webuye East MP and former club chairman, Alfred Sambu was the first to heed the call of a quick fix when he gave the club Sh200,000 before his Westlands counterpart Tim Wanyonyi adding Sh100,000 before they were promised Sh500,000 if they won their away match to Bandari and they duly delivered in a 2-1 victory over the hosts.
The players and their officials were briefly detained at a Mombasa hotel for non payment of Sh170,000 following their Bandari match before former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga and Mombasa Governor, Ali Hassan Joho intervened to settle their dues for their release.
Leopards are set to hold a fundraiser June 4 in Nairobi, targeting to raise Sh12m which Kadima believes will end their financial constrains that were fired up after shirt sponsor, Mumias Sugar suspended their sponsorship for three months.
“Former vice chairman Walter Onyino will chair the fundraising which will temporarily end the financial problems. We want to finish send in the first-leg so that we can pile pressure on Gor Mahia second leg,” Kadima said.
Leopards will be looking for their fourth successive win against resilient Stima.